The Origin of the Saying

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
All I knew about this novel going into it was that it popularized the term “Catch-22” and that it was a satire set during WWII. Since I’m not very fond of books about army life and wars, I went into this one with the expectation that I would probably dislike it, only to find that it was much more entertaining than I could have imagined. At the center we have the bombardier John Yossarian, who desperately wants to stay alive and is trying by all means to avoid flying more dangerous missions, though he is forever thwarted by Colonel Cathcart who increases the number of missions required of the men every time they reach his ever-increasing targets—ensuring none of them can return home—in hopes of earning greater esteem from his superiors. Heller’s wry humour and hilarious observations about human behaviour turns even some of the most violent and harrowing situations into opportunities for a laugh, although for some, altogether different responses—anger, sadness, frustration—might be considered more appropriate. The crudeness and zaniness of the characters and situations, the unflinching descriptions of injuries, death and aggression are sometimes difficult to read through, but they also contribute a feeling of immediacy which make this novel still relevant today, almost 50 years after the original publication.

I gave this book ★★★★ I had no expectations and was pleasantly won over.


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