31. ‘Catch-22’ by Joseph Heller

OK, this was the most challenging book yet – and I thought Karouac’s was tough! 

I admitted defeat with Catch-22. I managed to suffer my way through nearly half the book before giving up. I found the writing style disjointed and self-loathing (was Heller writing for its therapeutic value or was he writing whilst under the influence? Possibly both?), the characters distasteful and obnoxious, the story never seemed to go anywhere or progress with the characters. 

I do wonder what I would be writing had I had struggled on to the end and (hopefully) gained valuable insight into what the rest of the book was leading up to, but I’ll have to settle for reading a few reviews and ‘study notes’ online to see this.

I know that ‘Catch-22’ is a mainstream phrase we use for a situation where there is no clear positive decision we can make to resolve the difficulty we find ourselves in: “a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.” For some this could be easily explained as a job advert asking for a minimum amount of experience, but how are you supposed to get the experience without the job?

So why is this book on the list? Just what is so important or revolutionary about Heller’s book that has so many positive and loving reviews? I may not see the worth or merit, but other clearly do, but why? Upon its original release the book gained notoriety for the portrayal of individual / societal madness, but it’s success is also attributed to the growing unease in American about its involvement in Vietnam during the 1960’s.

Is the book on the list because of the wild and different style, a well as subject area? Is it down to the influence it had on writers and filmmakers alike? Or is it down to its influence on popular culture and the way it reflected the nature of a society unable to identify itself in the post-war change?

At some point I WILL come back and try again, perhaps further down my journey through these 100 books, maybe later, but I hope I can eventually finish it and find out if the weak scores (below) are justified.

Scores:
Held my interest: 0/10
Captured my imagination: 0/10
Worth reading: 0/10
Overall: 1/10

Image source: Steve Walser (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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