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"Catch-22" is one of this century's greatest works of American literature. First published in 1961, Joseph Heller's profound and compelling novel has appeared on nearly every list of must read fiction. It is a classic in every sense of the word. "Catch-22" took the war novel genre to a new level, shocking us with its clever and disturbing style. Set in a World War II American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, "Catch-22" is the story of John Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Yossarian is also trying to decode the meaning of Catch-22, a mysterious regulation that proves that insane people are really the sanest, while the supposedly sensible people are the true madmen. And this novel is full of madmen -- Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly in order to finish their tour; Milo Minderbinder, a dedicated entrepreneur who bombs his own airfield when the Germans offer him an extra 6 percent; Major Major Major, whose tragedy in life is that he resembles Henry Fonda; and Major -- de Coverley, whose face is so forbidding no one has dared ask his name. No novel before or since has matched "Catch-22's" intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war. Heller satirizes military bureaucracy with bitter, stinging humor, all the while telling the darkly comic story of Yossarian, a bombardier who refuses to die. Nearly forty years later, Yossarian lives.
Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American lit-erature and one of the funniest--and most celebrated--novels of all time. In recent years it has been named to "best novels" lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer. Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, 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, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he's assigned, he'll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. Since its publication in 1961, no novel has matched Catch-22's intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war. This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller's masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; personal essays on the genesis of the novel by the author; a wealth of critical responses and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller's personal archive; and a selection of advertisements from the original publishing campaign that helped turn Catch-22 into a cultural phenomenon. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.
Not many writers introduce a phrase - let alone a whole idea - into the language. In CATCH-22, Joseph Heller invented a motif for the modern world. For that book alone he is one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. But where did the author who was able to create that novel come from? And what happened to those remarkable characters? CATCH AS CATCH CAN for the first time collects early works, previously unpublished stories and lost chapters of CATCH-22 to chart the development of a genius. It also explores the consequences in the later stories of the unforgettable Yossarian, and Heller's non-fiction pieces, in which the author reflects upon his childhood in Coney Island and the novel which shaped everything that was written after it.
Long before there was a Catch-22, before there was even a Catch-18 (the novel's original title), Joseph Heller had begun sharpening his skills as a writer, searching for the voice that would best express the peculiarly wry view that he held of the world. Starting in 1945, with the publication in Story magazine of the short story "I Don't Love You Anymore," Heller began to reach out to an audience of readers damaged and disillusioned by their experiences during World War II. That story dealt with the return home of an American soldier who was having more than a little trouble adjusting. The stories published following this debut continued to reflect people at odds with the world around them, usually featuring the "little guy," the "underdog," the "average Joe" who beats the odds by surviving in a generally hostile and unwelcoming world. Written in what is termed the "New York Style," his were stories of urban naturalism, realistic and straightforward, emulating the work of such writers as Irwin Shaw, William Saroyan, John O'Hara, and -- perhaps most especially -- Nelson Algren. For Heller, writing these stories was a part of the learning process, his education on how to get across his own point of view, leading up to the publication of his masterpiece, Catch-22. Of the stories in this collection, thirteen were written before 1961, when Catch-22 was published; of those, five have never before been published. After Catch-22, Heller forsook the short story form. Though five stories were published after 1961, one -- "World Full of Great Cities" -- was actually written in 1949, three of the other four are spin-offs of Catch-22, and one is a preview of Closing Time. Rounding out this collection of the complete published short writings of Joseph Heller are a short play and several nonfiction pieces, mostly related to Catch-22.
A darkly comic and ambitious sequel to the American classic Catch-22. In Closing Time, Joseph Heller returns to the characters of Catch-22, now coming to the end of their lives and the century, as is the entire generation that fought in World War II: Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and such newcomers as little Sammy Singer and giant Lew, all linked, in an uneasy peace and old age, fighting not the Germans this time, but The End. Closing Time deftly satirizes the realities and the myths of America in the half century since WWII: the absurdity of our politics, the decline of our society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture -- with the same ferocious humor as Catch-22. Closing Time is outrageously funny and totally serious, and as brilliant and successful as Catch-22 itself, a fun-house mirror that captures, at once grotesquely and accurately, the truth about ourselves.
Dr. Bruce Gold, 48-year-old professor of literature, finds himself facing the prospect of becoming a high Washington official.
MEMOIR It all began one typical day in the life of Joe Heller. He was jogging four miles at a clip these days, working on his novel God Knows, coping with the complications of an unpleasant divorce, and pigging out once or twice a week on Chinese food with cronies like Mel Brooks, Mario Puzo, and his buddy of more than twenty years, Speed Vogel. He was feeling perfectly fine that day -- but within twenty-four hours he would be in intensive care at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital. He would remain hospitalized for nearly six months and leave in a wheelchair. Joseph Heller had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating, sometimes fatal condition that can leave its victims paralyzed from head to toe. The clan gathered immediately. Speed -- sometime artist, sometime businessman, sometime herring taster, and now a coauthor -- moved into Joe's apartment as messenger, servant, and shaman. Mel Brooks, arch-hypochondriac of the Western world, knew as much about Heller's condition as the doctors. Mario Puzo, author of the preeminent gangster novel of our time, proved to be the most reluctant man ever to be dragged along on a hospital visit. These and lots of others rallied around the sickbed in a show of loyalty and friendship that not only built a wild and spirited camaraderie but helped bring Joe Heller, writer and buddy extraordinaire, through his greatest crisis. This book is an inspiring, hilarious memoir of a calamitous illness and the rocky road to recuperation -- as only the author of Catch-22 and the friend who helped him back to health could tell it. No Laughing Matter is as wacky, terrifying, and great-hearted as any fiction Joseph Heller ever wrote.
Here is a lighthearted, freewheeling jaunt through 2500 years of Western Civilization which concludes with the startling realization that not much really has changed in all that time.
Imagine an author who has become a legend in his own lifetime - all because of the novel he wrote in the first flush of youth. Novelist Eugene Pota is a cultural icon of the twentieth century, struggling to write what will be the last novel of his career. But what to write about when, like so many noted authors before him, all of Pota's output since that first, landmark novel has been scrutinized and dissected - and found wanting? PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, AS AN OLD MAN follows Pota's efforts to settle on a subject for his final work. In his search, Heller - through Pota - pays homage to his favourite authors and discusses the problems that have plagued so many writers whose later works failed to live up to the successes of their first: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Jack London, Joseph Conrad, to name but a few. It is a rare and enthralling look into the artist's search for creativity, a search that comes at a point in life when impotence - both sexual and spiritual - has become a frustrating fact. Joseph Heller must have known that this would be his final novel; it stands as a fitting testament to the life and works of a leading light in modern literature.
Bob Slocum was living the American dream. He had a beautiful wife, three lovely children, a nice house...and all the mistresses he desired. He had it all -- all, that is, but happiness. Slocum was discontent. Inevitably, inexorably, his discontent deteriorated into desolation until...something happened.Something Happened is Joseph Heller's wonderfully inventive and controversial second novel satirizing business life and American culture. The story is told as if the reader was overhearing the patter of Bob Slocum's brain -- recording what is going on at the office, as well as his fantasies and memories that complete the story of his life. The result is a novel as original and memorable as his Catch-22.
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