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Jospeh Heller's Catch-22 (Barron's Book Notes)

Overview

In a novel as darkly comic and audaciously ambitious as was Catch-22, Joseph Heller has dared to write the sequel to his American classic, using many of Catch-22's characters, now older if not wiser, to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II. In 1961, Joseph Heller's remarkable first novel made its way immediately into the American psyche and came to symbolize the absurdity of war and of life. Catch-22 was recognized overnight as a classic and has...
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Overview

In a novel as darkly comic and audaciously ambitious as was Catch-22, Joseph Heller has dared to write the sequel to his American classic, using many of Catch-22's characters, now older if not wiser, to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II. In 1961, Joseph Heller's remarkable first novel made its way immediately into the American psyche and came to symbolize the absurdity of war and of life. Catch-22 was recognized overnight as a classic and has sold nearly ten million copies in the United States alone. It remains perhaps the funniest - and the most serious - novel ever written about war, "an apocalyptic masterpiece," in the words of one reviewer. Now, thirty-three years later, Joseph Heller has written the sequel. You don't have to have read Catch-22 (But then, who on earth hasn't?) to enjoy Closing Time, which is a fully independent companion work, a comic masterpiece in its own right, in which Heller spears the inflated balloons of our national consciousness - the absurdity of our politics, the decline of society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture - with the same ferocious humor that he used against the conventional view of warfare. His characters are those of Catch-22, 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, this time in uneasy peace and old age, fighting, not the Germans this time, but The End. 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.

A guide to reading "Catch-22" with a critical and appreciative mind encouraging analysis of plot, style, form, and structure. Also includes background on the author's life and times, sample test, term paper suggestions, and a reading list.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Worked on for many years and long anticipated (and perhaps dreaded) by admirers of the incomparable original, Heller's ``sequel'' shares with his great WWII saga a surreal sense of the absurd and of the fatuity of most human institutions. But it is hard to avoid a sense of keen disappointment, nonetheless. The satirizing of American contemporary life has been done so frequently-and often successfully-since the 1961 Catch-22, which helped make so much of that satirizing possible, that Heller is in effect competing with himself, and failing. Here again are John Yossarian, Milo Minderbinder, Sammy Singer, Chaplain Albert Tappman, and the giant Lew. Newcomers include Washington finagler G. Noodles Cook and the mysterious and ubiquitous know-it-all Jerry Gaffney. The wartime buddies are old men now, worried about their health, their sex lives and their children, but they find 1990s civilian life as corruptly absurd as the old Air Force days. There are flashbacks to the war, some of which recall the power of Heller's original inspiration; there are nostalgic passages about Coney Island, long Jewish dialogues that could have been penned by a whacked-out Neil Simon, bravura passages (notably, a magnificent wedding reception held at New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal) and hare-brained Pentagon meetings to discuss the new Shhhh super-quiet warplane. There are patches of vaudeville, dreamscapes, far too much sophomoric doodling, and longueurs when Heller seems simply to be filling pages. In the end, despite flashes of the old wit and fire, this is a tired, dispirited and dispiriting novel. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Playboy. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Two modern giants (LJ 2/15/70 and LJ 11/1/61, respectively) join Knopf's venerable "Everyman's Library." If you've been searching for quality hardcovers of these two eternally popular titles, look no further.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812035063
  • Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/10/1985
  • Series: Barron's Book Notes Series
  • Pages: 133
  • Age range: 15 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.01 (h) x 0.44 (d)

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