For Vignesh – The Catch-22 Review
Vignesh, an occasional commentator on this blog, mailed me last night. The subject line on the email said “Hi! Book review please!” which intrigued me no end. So even though I was 99% asleep (I was completely exhausted yesterday for some reason and turned in for the night at 10.15pm like a Very Good Girl), I read the mail which said: “I just want to know your opinion on the novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I am pretty sure you have read it…”
I was really tired, so I didn’t respond, but I did have the energy to grin for a second before falling asleep. Because I have read the book – but I read it only a couple of years ago, even though we had a copy at home from the time I was a kid.
Catch-22 was one of my sister’s favourites and when I was a kid, I generally read whatever she recommended (now it’s the other way round, hee hee!). But when I tried it, I couldn’t make sense of it at all – I think I was too young for it then.
By the time the book would have made sense to me, I’d read M*A*S*H (yes it was a book – in fact a series of books – before it became a TV show), which is pretty much on the same subject – the lunacy of war and bureaucracy. So I figured I didn’t need to read Catch-22 and I didn’t.
A couple of years ago, however, I decided I may as well read it. (It helped that I had nothing else to read at the time.) So I did – and just fell about laughing.
It’s a hilarious book. American airmen during World War II had certain rules to work with. If they were declared insane, they would be taken off duty and sent back home. But if they declared themselves insane, that proved they were capable of rational thinking, which proved they were sane and so they’d have to continue to fly. On the other hand, everyone knew that if they kept flying in those terrible conditions, they’d have to be insane. That was the clause called Catch-22.
It’s best to read this book at leisure – when you have the time to read more than a few pages a day – because it can get confusing at times. Also, once you get into it, it’s very hard to put it down, which means that you’ll be jumping up and down in frustration if you have to keep dashing off and doing something else.
But even if that means putting off reading it till you get a two-day weekend or something better, READ IT.