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Monday, May 22, 2006

Catch-22


There was only one catch, and that was catch-22!

Catch-22 is a beautiful, beautiful book satirizing war. It is full of humor, insanity and outright absurdity. The story is set in Italy during World War II. Yossarian, the main character is a bomber who wants to escape war because of its inescapable danger. So does his friend and tent mate Orr. They device an easy way to ‘bunk’ – they pretend sick!

(My fellow Kazhaks can relate to this. Many a pretended sick reports, MI room visits, NAD reports)
Joseph Heller takes us through a range of emotions and stories, ranging from humor, insanity, pity, ridicule, hope, friendship, confusion, greed, gilt and the undeniable reality of war. The 450 page ‘saga’ is also stippled with hilarious characters, like Orr who constantly hopes to crash his plane and escape to Sweden, Colonel Cathcart a dejected colonel who volunteers his men for dangerous mission to become a general, Doctor Daneeka who resentfully avoids his duty being bitter that war took away from him a lucrative medical practice back home, Yossarian’s mischievous friend Dunbar who cultivates boredom to increase his life-span, Nately’s whore and her surly twelve-year-old kid sister who tries to imitate her.This novel will remain eternal so long as human beings wage war against each other.

Here is an excerpt:
The colonel dwelt in a vortex of specialists who were still specializing in trying to determine what was troubling him. They hurled lights in his eyes to see if he could see, rammed needles into nerves to hear if he could feel. There was a urologist for his urine, a lymphologist for his lymph, an endocrinologist for his endocrines, a psychologist for his psyche, a dermatologist for his derma; there was a pathologist for his pathos, a cystologist for his cysts, and a bald and pedantic cetologist from the zoology department at Harvard who had been shanghaied ruthlessly into the Medical Corps by a faulty anode in an I.B.M. machine and spent his sessions with the dying colonel trying to discuss Moby Dick with him.

The colonel had really been investigated. There was not an organ of his body that had not been drugged and derogated, dusted and dredged, fingered and photographed, removed, plundered and replaced. Neat, slender and erect, the woman touched him often as she sat by his bedside and was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she smiled. The colonel was tall, thin and stooped. When he rose to walk, he bent forward even more, making a deep cavity of his body, and placed his feet down very carefully, moving ahead by inches from the knees down. There were violet pools under his eyes. The woman spoke softly, softer even than the colonel coughed, and none of the men in the ward ever heard her voice.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Soni said...

Again, this is a book I have come close to reading many a time! I remember this fantastic movie "Thalavattom" which many say was a loose adaptation of this great book. I have used the word Catch-22 in my everyday conversation and written about it too but then, mister, you have blogged abt books I havent read yet! You are making my reading list tougher, longer and befitting!

Why dont you blog abt Thalavattom? I think it was hilarious and tear jerking to an equal degree..............

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