Summer is over and the understanding of our summer reading commences because summer never ends but the commiseration over our summer reading will end shortly.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one of those books that you know you should have read, tried to read, read but have forgotten, threw at the wall by page 18 or maybe you saw the film. Hmm...not sure...maybe in college...don't know. Can't remember. Where'd I put my phone?
Next week, we will begin our discussions of this book, based on Heller's experience during the Second World War, embraced as an anti-establishment, anti-Viet Nam novel and responsible for coining that sickening feeling when you are inexplicably disgusted at the banal lack of logic that ultimately has you in a damn doomed noose. That's some catch, that Catch-22.
Years ago, our Chapter Endnotes titles began to fall far from the trend. Whereas we used to rely on trusted newspapers' recommendations and publishers' selections, not anymore. My edict of preferring my authors very dead, does allow for exceptions and therefore I wish Amor Towles a long healthy life. My other edicts, I have lots, of reading no book with the word, "Girl" in its title has amended and now my list includes the word, "Orphan."
Now relying on basic gut and whim when selecting titles has resulted in the summer selection of Catch-22, a novel that plays on the grotesque absurdity of justifying the ridiculously illogical, embracing patriotic profiteering and ignoring the exposed-entrails exposing inhumanity of war if it can lead to a cover story in a The Saturday Evening Post. This is the stuff of pre-MASH.
Thank god, although Meursault certainly would not, that we read Camus prior to this crazytown party of prose. The Stranger was was perfect prep for the absurdly sane, naked, non-jaundiced, backward-walking antics of Yossarian and the bizarre behaviors of Orr, Doc, the Texan, Nately, Kid Sampson, Major Major Major, Washington Irving, Irving Washington and the rest of the crew.
For the record, not that it matters, Camus would not like the absurd label.
Everything has a catch.
"Thatsa Fine Looking Broad."
Spanning back fifty years, I heard my father use language like "broad" when referring to women. He was an Air Force mechanic who served in Korea. Reading Heller waxed nostalgic and authentic. I overlooked the offense in lieu of contextual realism and basic "just give it a rest." Heller is a helluva fine writer.
I know. I've heard. You just couldn't get through this kind of writing. Perhaps you put book aside because you were insulted, frustrated or confused by the contradictory prose, the never ending parade of characters, the sinuous plot, and, yes, treatment of women.
Good! Doesn't matter if you read or didn't read the book. I look forward to the whys that will be discussed throughout the month about this important American novel that unfortunately captures our tumultuous nonsensical world right now.
Relying on gut and whim does have a catch.