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Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (7)
Captain John Yossarian is a bombardier for the 256th Squadron, stationed on the island of Pianosa in the Mediterranean. He's sick of having people try to kill him. He 's finally realized that anyone willing to fly into the face of enemy fire must be crazy, so he wants to go home, but there's a catch:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which
specified that a concern for one's own
And so he's stuck flying more missions (and ever more as the number of missions required keeps getting increased.)
Serving alongside him in the 256th are:
Col. Cathcart--who continually volunteers his men for the most dangerous missions.
Doc Daneeka--who's outraged that his draft board would not take his
word as a
Chief White Halfoat--who is out to revenge himself on the white man.
Captain Flume--who lives in constant fear that his tentmate, the Chief, will slit his throat.
Major Major Major Major--"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three"
Hungry Joe--who has a recurring nightmare that one night a cat will sleep on his face & suffocate him.
& Milo Minderbender & Nately & Nately's whore & Nately's whore's little sister & so on.
One of the funniest novels ever written, it earns a high rank on this
list because of its more serious message. It is at heart an antibureaucratic
polemic. While the specific target is the military, the attack is
It is especially interesting that this is a novel of World War II. One of the more vacuous tribal drums that is beating beneath today's culture is for the cult of the Depression/WWII generation, or as Tom Brokaw's book call them, the Greatest Generation (see Orrin's review). There's this quaint myth that somehow the folks who lived through the Depression and fought in WWII were an especially selfless or patriotic crew. They certainly look good in comparison to the wholly self-centered Baby Boomers, but books like this and the works of James Jones & Kurt Vonnegut offer a welcome antidote to the notion that they marched happily off to a war to save the world without a thought for themselves.
Amazon.com Top 100 Books of the Millenium
Anthony Burgess : 99 Best Modern Novels (1934-84)
Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels
Library Journal: Top 150 of the Century
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
Mr. Doggett's Suggested Summer Reading for Students
New York Public Library's Books of the Century
The Hungry Mind Review's 100 Best 20th Century Books
-Joseph Heller Archive
-A Conversation with Joseph Heller . . . author of Now and Then (Random House)
-INTERVIEW: (Book Ends)
-ESSAY: Looking Back at "Catch-22": Celebrants of the late Joseph Heller, and of his brilliant comic novel, remain determined to sanitize its message ( Norman Podhoretz , Commentary)
-Essay: Deadly Unconscious Logics in Catch-22 by Robert M. Young
-REVIEW: of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller The Logic of Survival in a Lunatic World (ROBERT BRUSTEIN, New Republic)
-REVIEW : of Now and Then: A Memoir from Coney Island to Here by Joseph Heller (Ian Hamilton, booksonline uk)
-REVIEW : of Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man by Joseph Heller (Lewis Jones, booksonline uk)
Other recommended books by Joseph Heller:
If you liked Catch-22, try:
Cozzens, James Gould