Review: Catch-22

168668
Image Source: Goodreads

How to start this review… Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a sort of masterpiece. I don’t feel as though I have the right to make a review about this book because it is so dense with knowledge and philosophy. However, I will try, as Catch-22 has become one of my favorite books. At 463 pages, the book isn’t a short read, but it needs to be long for its purpose to be effective.

 

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.” (Heller 55)

 

I tried my best to find a single quote that could give an accurate representation of Catch-22. The way this book operates is disorienting the reader in a similar way as the protagonist, Yossarian, who is disoriented in his time as a WWII pilot. Yossarian thinks someone is out to kill him. His fellow soldiers tell him he’s crazy, no one is out to kill him. Then why are they shooting at Yossarian? They aren’t trying to kill him specifically, they are shooting at everyone. Exactly, says Yossarian, they are trying to kill him. This is just one of many odd mindsets Yossarian has. Everything Yossarian does is intended to keep him alive as long as possible, which is a difficult task for a WWII pilot. But, he manages to slide by.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who can read. Many will not enjoy it, but I think it is insanely important of a read. The way Heller portrays the pointlessness of war is by far the most effective I’ve encountered. I can understand those who can’t get past the confusing writing style and non-linear timeline, but I think this is one of those books where enjoyment is not necessary.

 

Word Count: 412

Advertisements

Book Review: Brave New World

  • Book: Brave New World
  • Author: Aldous Huxley
  • Pages: 259
51RAH7c2NXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Image Source: Amazon

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a riveting novel. I heard it was relevant to the politics of today, so I picked it up out of sheer interest. I love novels that criticize politics and the government, so I was pleased with this novel beyond what I expected. It isn’t the longest book, but it is sizable. I was so enthralled with the book, I finished it in one day. I didn’t want to put it down.

And that, is the secret of happiness and virtue–liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.” (Huxley 16)

This quote perfectly describes the villain in Brave New World. Humans are made to be so pleased, they do not care they are being taken advantage of. And why would they? Everyone is psychologically altered to enjoy their function in society. No one, even the designated lower class, feels distaste toward the way of life. People are born genetically modified to be either first class citizens, or proles. However, through the psychological manipulation, the lowest class is happy doing what it does. Huxley is arguing with this novel that despite being given everything to be happy, it is not worth the loss of humanity. This video gives an excellent summary of the premise.

I am a sucker for novels of this sort. Any criticisms I would give would be forced on my behalf. However, there are aspects that I could see other readers not enjoying. Some of the wording is a little hard to follow in the longer paragraphs, which leads to some re-reading for clarification. This doesn’t bother me, as when I have to re-read a paragraph it is usually my own fault. The mind drifts where it wants to after all. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even if I thought they wouldn’t enjoy it. The benefit of reading this book is to be wary of when we are being manipulated by higher authority, and hopefully by being aware can fight against it. It may not always be as obvious as bread and circuses, but appeasement should be looked out for in today’s age.

Word Count: 364