by Joseph Heller

Prepare for Classic Bitch to gore your ox or slaughter your sacred cow. Catch-22 is not a good read. At 478 pages of nonstop absurdist literature, it is unrelenting, nonsubtle, unnuanced, & mordant. Some scenes are so ridiculous that they read like the blocking of a Marx Brothers script. I either never made it through the first time, when it was assigned in a college English class, or I suffered as I did this time & then promptly forgot it. I don't remember.

My dad was visiting when I was reading it this time around, so he asked how it was. I told him how dated and unfunny I was finding it. Dad recounted that when he was in the Navy in the 1960s, and they docked in the Port of Hong Kong, all the sailors had suits of clothing made by tailors. Influenced by the recently published copy of Catch-22 that was being passed around on cruise, my father had "Washington Irving" and "Irving Washington" sewed into his suits. (Inside joke for readers of Catch-22.)

Whether or not you remember that name from the book, everybody remembers Major Major Major Major. But how about Colonel Korn? Lieutenant Scheisskopf? Do you remember General P.P. Peckem and A. Fortiori? You laughing yet? (Dad was.) For this reader though, the writing is so ridiculous that I'm afraid I must report that it just comes off as fatuous. It also doesn't help that this is yet another book given the nod by the Modern Library in which every single female character is a whore; the ones who aren't are treated like whores. Thanks, guys. For a book set in wartime, the longest physically violent fight scene within its covers is between a man & woman (a prostitute, of course). It lasts half a chapter and turns sexual. Another reason, doubtlessly, this book was such a hit amongst enlisted men aboard a destroyer tender half a century ago.

Catch-22 is a dinosaur.