Summer Reads - Catch-22
Wow. This is it. This is the book.
Or close enough, anyway. Sheer genius, whatever it is. Paradigm-changer and definitely one of the best books I've ever read.
The novel revolves around Catch-22, a catchphrase many of us have grown familiar with, even if we don't know where it originated. And what is Catch-22? As I understand it, it's a painfully logical and inescapable truth of life. 'Catch-22 means they are allowed to do whatever we can't stop them from doing'. Beautiful and dreadfully true.
The main character is Yossarian, bombardier in the American Army and one of the most relatable paper-and-ink people I've encountered. He is hellbent on survival, to the point of insanity. But is it insane to crave life? And that's part of the beauty of this book. During the first half, Yossarian feels like a first-grade lunatic surrounded by other crazies. But...
As the plot moves along we find our thoughts matching Yossarian's. In fact, how can he be mad when his cravings are so logical? Catch-22 dictates that if you're crazy you don't need to fly any more missions. But of course only a madman would want to put himself in such danger, so by refusing to fly you've proven your sanity. And this circular logic/anti-logic very much grows on you until nothing else really makes sense.
And then of course, there's the humor. Few books have made me laugh this much. It's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy funny meets A Farewell to Arms honesty. There's nothing like it.
Joseph Heller's novel is unique in its take on war, writing, and humor. It's also, without mistake, an all-time classic.