When I first considering reading Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, I had only a vague idea as to what to expect. In a nutshell, I knew that one US soldier entrenched in Europe during World War II realized that in order to stop flying bombing missions, he had to be classified as crazy. Of course, the only way he could be considered officially crazy was to initiate the process by claiming that he was crazy, thereby proving that he was in fear of his own life and not crazy at all. That was the catch, Catch-22.
I was caught up in the book on the first page. Rarely, I thought the book became a bit repetitive, overemphasizing the apparent or false insanity of several minor characters. By the end, I didn’t have a full grasp on who was sane and who wasn’t. Without over-analyzing the book, I’m almost convinced that Yossarian might have been the only sane soldier in the story.
Catch-22 is a good, light read if you don’t mind the occasional cropping up of senseless violence that always seems to accompany war, an interesting book to pick up that puts world crises such as we are all now experiencing in a slightly more manageable light. For a fun exercise, take note of how often the Catch-22 rule is applied in vastly different situations, and then consider what would happen if today’s lawmakers, soldiers, and military strategists applied the rule the same way. Scary!
I originally didn’t expect to enjoy the story, and I am surprised to find myself looking forward to seeing the screen adaptation.