Wednesday, November 10, 1971

Joseph Heller Catch-22 Published 10 Years Ago Today

Updated 7/5/2020.


Joseph Heller

First Publication: November 10, 1961

Category: satirical novel/war story

Sales: 10 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

Catch-22 is “a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest – and most celebrated – books of all time.” AZ It is an “irreverent” LC “black comedy” LC with a “satiric treatment of military bureaucracy” LC which “became a cult classic, especially among the Vietnam War generation, for its biting indictment of war.” LC

“It uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the points of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so the timeline develops along with the plot.” WK

“Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable” AZ “Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier,” WK “a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy – it is his own army” AZ who continuously issue “orders from above that made no sense” LC and “constantly “increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service.” AZ

Yossarian wants to plead insanity just so he can stay alive but attempts to get out of perilous duty will put him “in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions,” AZ but “anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.” LC The phrase “has had such a penetrating effect that its title has become synonymous with ‘no-win situation.’” LC

“Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

You can also watch the 1970 movie version on Amazon.

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our October 2019 book.

Thursday, July 15, 1971

J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye published 20 years ago today

Last updated 7/5/2020.

The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

First Publication: July 16, 1951

Category: coming-of-age novel

Sales: 65 million


About the Book:

“Ever since it was first published in 1951, this novel has been the coming-of-age story against which all others are judged.” BN “Originally published for adults,” WK “the novel’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion” WK and “adolescent alienation and angst.” LC He “is the first great American antihero, and his attitudes influenced the Beat Generation of the 1950s as well as the hippies of the 1960s.” LC

“The influential story concerns three days after Holden has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he wanders New York City searching for truth and rails against the phoniness of the adult world.” LC It “deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.” WK

“The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.” AZ

“Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, [Holden] issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.” AZ

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most translated, taught, and reprinted books and has sold some 65 million copies.” LC

Resources and Related Links:

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our March 2019 book.