It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)
Catch-22 is a microcosm of the 20th-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality. It is, we believe, one of the strongest creations of the mid-century.
©1955, 1961 Joseph Heller; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"An apocalyptic masterpiece." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"One of the most bitterly funny works in the language...explosive, bitter, subversive, brilliant." (The New Republic)
"A monumental artifact of contemporary American literature, almost as assured of longevity as the statues on Easter Island....Catch-22 is a novel that reminds us once again of all that we have taken for granted in our world and should not, the madness we try not to bother and notice, the deceptions and falsehoods we lack the will to try to distinguish from truth." (New York Times Book Review)
If you are old enough to remember the movie "M*A*S*H", then you will recognize that "M*A*S*H" was obviously based on this book. A "Catch 22" is a conundrum, a problem that when solved creates another problem that when solved takes you back to the first problem. There is no way out of it. This book is full of Catch 22s. It is very funny, but also very crude in many places. If you remember "MASH," that fact doesn't need to be explained. I think basically what it's all about is poking fun at the seriousness of war and of the military, things that aren't inherently funny, but that sometimes need to be made fun of so that those intimately involved with it can survive . . . or try to survive. That is the basis of this book.
I remember way back in the '70s when "MASH" was on TV as a series. A neighbor came over and asked my husband if he had been in the service. Because of a high school injury, my husband's draft status was the coveted 4F - undraftable, but we had seen every episode of "MASH" at least once. So our neighbor went on to tell us that being in the army was just like "MASH." He laughed so hard at it - even harder than we did, and we thought it was pretty funny. Of course, this book has its serious moments and its moral lesson to draw, and those are really what make it worth reading. This book is not for the faint of heart, and because of that I can't recommend it to everyone. Read the reviews and the summary. You'll know if it is for you.
Jay O. Sanders does an outstanding job of narrating this book. He sounds a whole lot like Peter Schikele, though, and I almost expected him to start talking about PDQ Bach. hahaha Just a little musical observation.
I read this book in its paper form some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt this version would be good for the car and it would be fun to read it again. This rendition is absolutely worthwhile - the story is still excellent and fresh but the reader is so good it would be worth listening just for his range. Not to be missed!
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If you like Catch-22, you will most likely enjoy this audiobook and the narration of Jay O. Sanders. For those of you who did not enjoy the book but wanted to give audio a shot, do not waste your time. Sanders cannot make up for the annoying tone and characters in this book. To be honest I do not really understand why anyone would really like this book. Heller's version of the war makes it look like everyone involved was a lunatic, its hard to follow the characters and even harder to like them.
I'm told if you read a physical copy of this book, it's really quite enjoyable...
Really, the narrator killed this for me. His impression of every character has the same odd drunken inflection to it. Since the text involves a lot of yelling I found myself turning the volume down repeatedly just to get through a segment. I think multiple narrators would have been needed here for a solid delivery. As is, where Heller is trying to be humorous, only monotoned drudgery comes through.
That may be a little harsh, but really, I can't say I enjoyed this one.
I almost gave up on this book before finishing Part 1 of 3, but I'm glad that I stuck it out to finish the entire thing. The first part was very confusing to me because of all the different characters that were introduced. It was nearly impossible to keep them all straight. I also started to get annoyed at the circular-logic humor (hence "Catch-22") that seemed like a constant Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" routine. What kept me going was the narrator. He was absolutely fantastic with all the different voices he was able to portray. It really helped me to catch on to the different characters and get deeply involved with the book. You really come to appreciate the narrator when you listen to the final chapter in the audiobook, which are excerpts from "Catch-22" read by the original author, Joseph Heller. While he was able to write a classic book, he was absolutely boring to listen to.
The book is great, and is duly recognized as such. What I need to write about is the narrator: he does such an excellent job with the fast paced and hilarious conversation, with the voices and personalities of the characters, and with voice emphasis on various aspects of the text, that hearing him is such a thrilling experience. This is not an easy book to act out, but this narrator has managed it superbly.
It is rare that you hear an actor perform a well written story, not because of the shortage of actors, but because of the shortage of good stories. This is one instance where the novel met its match!
Jay Sanders reads this with force and clarity - deftly characterizing dozens of personalities. The power of the book comes through loud and clear.
The problem with the order of chapters has now been fixed, and the book is presented in its entirety and the proper order.
The book (and this audio presentation of it) is brilliant. Get it. You'd be hard pressed to find a better way to spend 20 hours.
While the narrator overall does a good job, there are galling instances where he misreads. "Okay, Joe, she purred" is what's written. "Okay Joe, she putted" is what is narrated. Or "first" for "fist." Word for word readings likely are impossible, but when the sense is lost or diverted...
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