Catch 22: a sprint to the finish!

For the last few days I have had less than 100 pages to go to finish reading Catch 22. It’s been driving me NUTS because for about a million little reasons whenever I’ve had the chance to sit down to read it, I would get through about a paragraph before something else would pull me away (for example a surprise overnight family visit). It took me two days to read 40 pages. I felt like I was reaching desperately to get to that last page, and it was always just out of reach. BUT I DID IT, AND NOW I’M DONE! (and the crowd goes wild!)

I was so excited to find out how the HELL Heller was going to wrap up all of these intertwining-but-really-not-all-that-related-and-really-confusing-stories-and-characters. Was everyone going to go to a big party at the end and (god forbid) everyone would be in the same room at the same time?? Would they march, and everyone would be in the parade together? Would the men revolt because of Yossarian’s rebellion and everyone would just go home?

No, I was wrong on all fronts. None of those things happened – but that’s not surprising as I discovered in reading this book that Joseph Heller and I could not be more different in terms of our creative writing tendencies.

What I have to admit is that despite my previous assessments of this novel, there is one consistent story line that flows from beginning to end, which carries the narrative of the book: Yossarian doesn’t want to be in the war anymore. The book is about Yo-Yo (‘as his friends call him’) trying to get the hell out of dodge without dying. The irony is that the biggest threat to his life in this book isn’t even the war! It’s the kindly named “Nately’s Whore” character; She blames Yo-Yo for Nately’s death, and is so overcome by her grief that she can focus on nothing else but killing Yo-Yo.

A Note to the Author:

Mr. Heller, Have you ever met a woman? Been with a woman? Interacted with a woman in any way? Did you, by chance, research the role of women in war (ANY war – doesn’t even have to be the one you wrote about) prior to writing this book? If you did and still decided to write your female characters as you did (as undeveloped characters, sexualized objects, and single-purpose walking vaginas) then, you know what, okay, fine. You’re the author. But I just have to say one thing: COME ON.

Final verdict:

I’m sorry Man at Chapters Who Loves This Book, but I just couldn’t get there. However I will say that I enjoyed the parts I read significantly more than the parts I listened to on the audiobook, so I’m at least open to the idea that Catch 22 didn’t get a fair trial with me before I passed judgement. There were a few strong characters, and some pretty funny moments to boot. I would have liked to see the female characters (or at least one of them – you had many) developed beyond her ability to spread her legs, and it would have been even nicer if you could have graced them with names.

 

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