By Joseph Heller
My Rating: 3 Stars
Since I decided to read more classic works of fiction this year, I thought I should read one of the most famous war books in history. It’s been put on all of the military professional reading lists and practically every other reading recommendation list in existence. So when I went into Overdrive looking for my next audiobook and saw it was available I jumped at the chance. Yeah…I have to be honest, this book was downright painful to get through. Not only did I find it to be astoundingly boring, but even more disappointing was that I absolutely didn’t get it…at all. I can’t tell you how much this upset me. I had always wanted to read it and then to be let down so completely, well, it was really a bummer. In fact, I was so not interested in this book that I had to renew it twice to get to the end. That means it took me 30 days to get through it..ugh….But get to the end I did and when I did…well yeah…I wasn’t impressed at all. In fact, at the end I stopped what I was doing, looked down at my phone and my Overdrive app and said “What, that’s the end? Seriously?” I just couldn’t believe that’s how it ended. I was certain that my last file for the audio was corrupted or that maybe I didn’t get the last file or something. No, it was all there….much to my dismay.
Set in World War II, Catch-22 is the story of Yossarian, who has flown the required missions necessary to go home but his superior officers keep raising the number of missions required. Yossarian doesn’t want to die and determines the only way for him to survive the war is to not fly any more missions. So he starts scheming up ways to avoid having to fly more missions or refuses to fly more missions altogether. While Yossarian thinks everyone around him is crazy, others are finding Yossarian to be crazy as well. Together, these unique and telling characters make-up this novel about the absurdities and craziness of war and shows that to be in war and survive war one has to be a little mad.
I’ve already said I didn’t get this book. But it’s not that I didn’t get it, I did get it. It’s satirical and contains a wealth of dark humor, but it didn’t do anything for me. Does one have to have experienced war to appreciate it? Maybe. One thing I’ll say about Catch-22 though, is it’s full of some of the most unique characters I’ve ever encountered. Joseph Heller did an amazing job of developing the plethora of memorable characters who show up in this book. You’ll not soon forget them. Aside from the absolute absurdity this book displays I can say I did appreciate the way Heller depicts military bureaucracy. He definitely nailed that one.
Overall, Catch-22 wasn’t a terrible book, but I didn’t connect with it. I’m not sorry I read it, in fact I’m glad that I was able to finally read it. It’s worth the read to say you’ve read it and you were exposed to the brilliance of this book. If you are a big fan of satire, you’ll likely enjoy this book. I can’t say you’ll love it, because I, enjoy satire, but this particular flavor was lost of me. That’s not saying it won’t completely appeal to another. The book certainly has merits that are well deserved and if you are wanting to cross some classics off your “to read” list, then you should definitely check out this classic.