Rating: 3/4 (Stretched, but hilarious)
Take a sane US Air Force bombardier named Yossarian and put him in the middle of World War II at a tiny island base called Pianosa in Italy. Surround him with people who are almost insane and trash up his life with inane bureaucratic hurdles. What results is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, a book which is both maddening and brilliant. This is a book which I cannot even describe because there are no words for it. It is a comical insane trip for the mind, at the same time being thought fodder on the current state of the world.
Catch-22 was not an easy read. I almost gave up after the first 100 pages or so, not being able to see where the story was going. In fact, what I had to really do was to just keep reading and to let the extreme sarcasm and insanity of the book to sink in. The book is too long for its subject and the circular logic of Catch-22 in the dialogues are just too many and I felt that it spoils the reading. The last few chapters (starting with The Eternal City) get pretty serious and culminates in a happy ending for poor Yossarian. An escape for him from the asylum.
In case you were wondering what is Catch-22 …
Within the book, catch-22 is a military rule, the circular logic of which most notably prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions:
- One may only be excused from flying bombing missions on the grounds of insanity;
- One must assert one’s insanity to be excused on this basis;
- One who requests to be excused is presumably in fear for his life. This is taken to be proof of his sanity, and he is therefore obliged to continue flying missions;
- One who is truly insane presumably would not make the request. He therefore would continue flying missions, even though as an insane person he could of course be excused from them simply by asking.