Something Happened

Something Happened

by Joseph Heller


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Bob Slocum was living the American dream. He had a beautiful wife, three lovely children, a nice house...and all the mistresses he desired. He had it all — all, that is, but happiness. Slocum was discontent. Inevitably, inexorably, his discontent deteriorated into desolation until...something happened.
Something Happened is Joseph Heller's wonderfully inventive and controversial second novel satirizing business life and American culture. The story is told as if the reader was overhearing the patter of Bob Slocum's brain — recording what is going on at the office, as well as his fantasies and memories that complete the story of his life. The result is a novel as original and memorable as his Catch-22.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684841212
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/12/1997
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 128,068
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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.

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 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 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.
NicholasPayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As flat an affect as I've ever encountered in fiction, which I think is precisely the point. Rendered all too well, this book offers little to care about. Therein lies its brilliance, and its lack of popularity. Or so I believe.
Rhysickle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the same way that the structure of catch-22 mirrors the insane logic of warmongering, 'Something Happened', by going over the same tiny things over and over and over in ever increasing detail, manages to reflect and really bring out how people get sucked in to the neuroses of modern life.It's not as good a read as Catch-22 (but then again, what is?), but it does have ideas, it is cleverly written and it is affecting. Definitely worth reading.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's Freudian psychoanalysis, isn't it, that requires the patient to speak his every thought aloud to the psychiatrist, literally for months or years of sessions, until the central issue is discovered? This novel reads like a transcript of such sessions, where it's the mid-1960s and forty-ish Bob Slocum relates his anxieties about his middle-manager office job; his mother, father, siblings; his wife; his current, former, and potential lovers; his increasingly independent teenage daughter; his very sensitive pre-teen son; and his mentally disabled pre-school son. That's pretty much the story: his anxieties. Everything feels true to the '60s; it feels true to today, too, though politically incorrect.In Catch-22, Heller balanced the horrors of war with laugh-out-loud hilarity. Those extremes aren't present in this novel; instead, the general anxiety and melancholy are balanced only with mild smiles. Here, the polarity is the narrative focus -- 569 pages recounting absolute minutiae, contrasted with the merest paragraph that summarizes a terrible event. And when that event is voiced, as in psychoanalysis, the rest is wrapped up in short order.One must be in the mood for Heller, and be agreeable to his methods of storytelling. If you are, or are interested in a retro story (think Mad Men), this novel is worth reading.
giovannigf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't finish this tripe. I loved Catch 22, but what the hell was the problem with this generation of American writers (e.g. Mailer, Roth, Updike, Bellow, etc.) that they were so incredibly misogynist and racist? And egocentric and self-pitying, to boot!
Danlikebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Due to my life circumstances at the time of reading, this book probably had more effect on me more than any other I will ever read. It is basically the brutally honest rantings and recollections of Bob Slocum, who is less than happy with his ¿ideal¿ life. I liked the non-linear style and constant divergences of Bob¿s thoughts. At times it is exhausting, almost tedious but often utterly compelling and insightful. Ultimately, I recognised that some of the characters in the book were all around me at work (in a very similar workplace) and that, as a 19 year old apprentice, I was being groomed to become one of them. Fittingly, I discovered the book during a pointless two-hour wait to use some equipment in the library of my workplace - under the orders of one such person I was subsequently warned I would become by the book.Something Happened is very dark and at times disturbing, but still contains an abundance of Heller¿s unique wit and clever turn of phrase. In comparison, a very different book to Catch-22 but IMHO an achievement to rival it. I would say essential reading for Heller fans but, despite being one of favourite books, I¿m not sure I could recommend it to everybody.Yes, I quit the job. Thanks Joseph!
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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
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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.