Seeing Catch-22 Twice – Ron Rosenbaum – Slate
August 2 2011, 11:43pm
Worth reading - you'll see why it's posted on rd.net, but I won't put the spoiler here
I still fondly remember the day my father told me, "Hey, I just got a letter from Joseph Heller."
Now, my father wasn't a big reader and rarely wrote letters, much less to authors. But when I went through a phase in high school of constantly carrying Catch-22 around and quoting from it and writing things like, "There was only one catch and that was catch-22" in magic marker on phone booths in the supermarket parking lot where I worked as a shopping cart retriever (superdistinguished summer job!), my father asked to borrow my copy and, to my surprise, became an instant fan.
I guess it shouldn't have been so surprising. He had served as a wartime second lieutenant and was fond of quoting to me and my sister such profound military maxims as, "There's a right way, a wrong way and the army way." (Which meant: Do things my way, right or wrong.)
And I think he was impressed when I stumped him with what I would later come to think of as Joseph Heller's hilarious refutation of Kant's Categorical Imperative.
There's a scene in the World War II novel when some officer or other reproves the novel's anti-hero, Capt. Yossarian, for trying to escape another of the ever-escalating number of dangerous bombing missions he's ordered to fly. Read more