Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Filed under: Book Reviews,Infinite TBR,Reader of the Stack Goes Canonical — Ibis at 4:11 pm on Saturday, August 7, 2010

From the back cover:
Catch-22 is like no other novel. It has its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original.

Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn’t even met keep trying to kill him. Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality—a masterpiece of our time.”

My thoughts:
This novel is undeniably a masterpiece. It is not only a commentary on the absurdity of war (and capitalism thrown in for good measure), not only an encapsulation of the entire 20th century Zeitgeist with all of its angst, humour, brutality, and tragedy, but a metaphor for human life itself. Absolutely brilliant with great characters, outrageously funny episodes, and a jumble of a timeline that works both to confuse and elucidate the action (how’s that for a paradox?). I loved every minute of this book, even when I cried. I listened to the audiobook version (read by Trevor White), which I would highly recommend, and I thought the novel was so fantastic that directly upon finishing it, I put it on my wishlist for a hard copy for my permanent collection. This deserves to be on the top ten list of 20th century novels for sure. But I’m not going to touch the sequel with a ten-foot pole. Some things are best left alone, and I get the feeling this is one of them.

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