“Catch-22,” by Joseph Heller, is not an entirely successful novel. It is not even a good novel. It is not even a good novel by conventional standards. But there can be no doubt that it is the strangest novel yet written about the United States Air Force in World War II. Wildly original, brilliantly comic, brutally gruesome, it is a dazzling performance that will probably outrage nearly as many readers as it delights.”–Orville Prescott, Books of the Times, NY Times, Oct. 23rd, 1961
Catch-22 was published today in 1961 when I was 9 years old; of course I didn’t read it then, but I must’ve read it at around 13 or 14 and I do remember loving it. I’m sure I was introduced to it by dear old Mom, who will be 90 soon. Throughout the years I would see Joseph Heller from time to time on TV (probably on Dick Cavett), especially with his cronies, other writers whose names I just can’t remember as of this moment, except for Kurt Vonnegut. Heller was an interesting fellow to say the least. When his daughter, Erica Heller, wrote her memoir about growing up with Joseph Heller in 2011, I read that…oh read it, it’s great, “Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home and Life Was a Catch-22.” For the 50th Anniversary of Catch-22, I saw Christopher Buckley (Yes, Bill’s son), Bob Gottlieb (Heller’s editor and friend) and Mike Nichols who directed the
film, Catch-22) a few times in various panel discussions on the relevance of Heller’s only book for quite a while. It took Heller over 10 years to write his 2nd book, Something Happened, which Kurt Vonnegut, a close friend of Heller’s, reviewed, “Is this book any good? Yes. It is splendidly put together and hypnotic to read. It is as clear and hard-edged as a cut diamond. Mr. Heller’s concentration and patience are so evident on every page that one can only say that “Something Happened” is at all points precisely what he hoped it would be.”–NY Times Book Review, Oct. 6th, 1974
Six years after the publication of Catch-22, The Moody Blues released “Nights in White Satin.” It’s still beautiful after all these years. I do remember seeing them a few times in concert…probably at The Fillmore East in NYC.
What unites Joseph Heller and The Moody Blues?