Against all warnings that this was a difficult book to get into, a week or so ago I plunged into Catch-22. AND IT’S AN ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE. I’m only three-quarters of the way through – hence why the title of this is ‘Currently Reading’ – but I have fallen nose-over-tail in love.
When I first bought this in Waterstone’s, I was warned by the guy at the till that this was ‘hard’ and could prove to be ‘quite a challenge’. So it was a bit of a surprise when I sailed my way through the first few chapters, only stopping to laugh and cry and breathe. I’m actually a big fan of satire- and by big, I mean it’s my second favourite genre, after dystopia – and I was prepared to be hit with a fantastic book. But, admittedly, not this fantastic. I don’t think that I’ve ever read such a book that’s made me smile and cry within the space of a few pages, and the descriptive powers possessed by Heller are, quite frankly, terrifying. The mental image that his words painted was disturbingly vivid, and the actual story just drew me in.
As a quick synopsis, Catch-22 is a satirical masterpiece that is set in World War Two – mostly in a USA air force base in Pianosa – and centres (ish) around the enigmatic (and for some reason, instantly lovable) Yossarian. ASIDE: What a name. Just the name does it for me. GENIUS! Absolute genius. However, each chapter focusses on a different character, whether that is Doc Daneeka, Colonel Cathcart or Major Major Major. And yes, that is his actual name – I quite honestly cried when I was reading the explanation behind that one.
Although I haven’t read allof Catch-22 yet, from what I’ve read so far it is incredible. It’s not your standard action-packed war novel – but Heller’s magical style weaves such a captivating story that you don’t need all this smash-wallop-another-one’s-died trash. A must-read.