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Catch-22

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Title: Catch-22
Author: Joseph Heller
Year: 1961

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.

This novel spends most of its time mocking war and its institutions. Even the title makes fun of the ridiculous bureaucracy of the military. Mixed in with the comedy is a dark tale of death and the realities of war which adds tremendous depth to the read.

The primary character in the story is Yossarian, a man who is afraid that he will be killed in the war. The book takes us through his plights, his adventures and his realisations regarding the war and his place in it.

Catch-22 is a great read. Some of the humour and paradoxes that Heller creates are brilliant, but they are tempered with occasional moments illustrating the horror of war.

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