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Something Happened

Something Happened

3.9 11
by Joseph Heller

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This is Joseph Heller's first book after CATCH-22, and in it he explores the wartime generation's new predicament...as husband, progenitor, provider and survivalist. What happened to all the youthful dreams and those who peopled them? Gone to ruin. Because Heller is an architect of his age, his comments on the rubble contain more irony than perhaps he realizes.


This is Joseph Heller's first book after CATCH-22, and in it he explores the wartime generation's new predicament...as husband, progenitor, provider and survivalist. What happened to all the youthful dreams and those who peopled them? Gone to ruin. Because Heller is an architect of his age, his comments on the rubble contain more irony than perhaps he realizes.

Editorial Reviews

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.
John Mort
A sequel to "Catch-22"? Not possible, not desirable, and bound to fail. That said, "Closing Time" remains a brilliant book--broadly, about the end of culture, the end of the U.S. as a wonderful place for ordinary working stiffs, and death itself. Like the original novel, it opens with Yossarian in a hospital; there's nothing wrong with him except that he's old and no longer enjoys life. Someone is tapping his phone, and somehow that's connected with Milo Minderbinder and Chaplain Tappman. Milo, a defense contractor, is trying to sell the Pentagon a silent bomber that will do anything they want it to--of course it will, since the bomber will never be made or even drawn. Meanwhile, the chaplain becomes a military secret because he has begun to pass heavy water, and if the process can be patented it's worth millions. The president, very nice and incredibly stupid, also appears; he loves video games and inadvertently plunges the world into nuclear war. This plot line is loosely tied to a vast underground industrial complex that resulted when George C. Tilyou, a "Coney Island entrepreneur," became the first person in history to take his wealth with him, somehow sinking it, piece by piece, beneath the city. Maybe his empire has become part of secret, military goings-on, and maybe it's hell, and maybe they are the same. Can you oppose the very end of the earth? Heller's characters, at the end themselves, sort of do, but one really should read this novel as an expression toward the end of a grand career, a summing up. Heller is savage as ever, and--particularly in his brutal portrait of the decline of New York City--mournful.
Charles McGrath
....[I]mportant book that offers a portrait of a representatiave postwar American man whose existence is seen as a kind of narcissistic death-in-life. -- The New York Times Books of the Century

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 1, 1923
Date of Death:
December 12, 1999
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Place of Death:
East Hampton, New York
New York University, B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa, 1948<br> Columbia University, M.A., 1949

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Something Happened 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joseph Heller is and incredible writer and describes the main character's(bob slocum)emotions with outstanding detail. Many have said that this novel was nothing more than a woe is me story of a man in depression, but i think it may have a strong underlying theme. Such as, if you want to change something, you have to change it, you just can't sit around and wait. I loved this novel by one of my favorite authors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel reads like a kick to the groin. Every facet of life-simple pleasures, fidelity, success are called into question. Every corner of his imagination has a light shined on it and something, some unnamed thing scampers into and out of the light before we get a hold of it. Until the final page of the book you don't really know what happened. But you won't forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Viktor More than 1 year ago
I've loved Heller's other books but this one just wallowed. I had to put it down. Maybe I'll come back to it some day. There's humor but I feel as if it were trying too hard to be comical. I highly recommend Catch-22, though. One of my all time favorites
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Something Happened¿, by Joseph Heller, describes the life of an ordinary man working in corporate America. The main character, Bob Slocum, relates to many of the people in the business world, because he¿s not perfect. Mr. Slocum¿s problems with his family and his workplace are problems that many Americans deal with every day. He desires sex, he is in some ways a bigot, and he does not make all of his own decisions. Slocum goes through everyday life fearing someone or something. The reason is that something happened. Not too far into the novel, the reader learns that Bob Slocum is on the extreme end of not being perfect, and that¿s what makes the story so great. Many Americans are guilty of living a life of boredom that bears very little responsibility; in this case an average guy is depicted as living in fear, and only doing something when he absolutely has to. Heller uses satire in order to create not only comedy, but also to show how business in America really is. For example, ¿It¿s a real problem to decide whether it¿s more boring to do something boring than to pass along everything boring that comes in to somebody else and then have nothing to do at all.¿ Heller is writing about the paper pushing that is a part of any large corporation and is reflected in how there is really not much important work that has to be done. He also mentions how everyone is afraid of at least a certain amount of people, who are also afraid of a certain amount of people. The only motivation for the employees to do anything is just to prevent getting hassled or for fear of losing their jobs. Essentially he is alluding to the fact that people are getting paid to waste time for most of their workdays.
xrayspex More than 1 year ago
The American propaganda machine that tells you if you don't like something, change it, is a cruel tool that allows people to perpetuate atrocity after atrocity and if you don't like it is up to you to change it AND that is not healthy. You can't change circumstances and never will. All you drones that continue to reinforce people controlling you by telling you you have control are just tools. Sad, but this book finally and brilliantly illuminates that fact and puts the lie to rest. There is no self initiating force in the brain and nobody ever changes the system. We must take what we are given and adapt. This wonderful book gives us reality with detailed literary character studies and all you conditioned drones that can't handle the truth are the bad guys. This book is a wonderful examination of life, experiences in this culture and how our interactions with our environments shape our brain and behavior. Some people are sad and there are reasons. That is awesome. Everybody that is offended that the main character is depressed and has the nerve to give reasons for their lack of satisfaction, which you clones call excuses, are a cancer. In order to avoid manipulation we must understand manipulation and this book finally gives reasons and finally allows understanding and is a brilliant exhortation that Something Happening.
Brunehildasmellton More than 1 year ago
I recently read ¿Something Happened¿ by Joseph Miller. Overall, the book was well written, with great literary techniques, including some which I hadn¿t seen used as well before. However, the book was slow moving. I did not like the book because the plot was tedious and the main character was difficult to sympathize with.
The main character, Bob Slocum, is very dislikeable. He cheats on his wife often with multiple women. He frequently gets in arguments with his teenage daughter, who he tries to demean. He has a mentally handicapped son, ¿Derek¿, whom he wishes would either go away or die. He feels like he is destroying his younger son, although that son is the only family member he loves. I thought it was strange that the author never gave names to any of his family member expect for his handicapped son. At work, where he despises most of his coworkers, he spends his time flirting with a younger woman from the Art Department.
The book starts out with the narrator telling awkward and at times slightly disturbing stories of his childhood and young adulthood. Some of these were interesting to read, and some were repetitive and did not seem necessary. For example, he tells the story of the first and maybe only woman he loved several times. This woman was older than him and committed suicide after he went to look for her after a few years of not seeing her. Some of the first chapters are named after the problems in his life. The content of the book gets darker and more abstract, until something finally happens.
The only likeable character, his son, dies at the end of the book. The son sadly dies because Bob holds him to tight after he got in a car accident. I thought this was ironic for a character, who had been so unaffectionate and cold throughout the book. The last, short, chapter of the book wraps up various concerns the narrator has had throughout the book.
To conclude, I did not like the book because it was slow moving. I would, however, consider reading other books by the same author because I liked the way it was written. I also have heard that ¿Catch-22¿ is very good.