Joseph Heller’s Catch 22

05Jul11

If you want a book about the absurdity of war, Catch 22 is the blueprint. Here’s something from the Major Major Major Major chapter that took my breath away for its descriptive power:

“Back in the ward, he found his wife lying vanquished beneath the blankets like a desiccated old vegetable, wrinkled, dry and white, her enfeebled tissues absolutely still. Her bed was at the very end of the ward, near a cracked window thickened with grime. Rain splashed from a moiling sky and the day was dreary and cold. In other parts of the hospital chalky people with aged, blue lips were dying on time. The man stood erect beside the bed and gazed down at the woman a long time.”

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2 Responses to “Joseph Heller’s Catch 22”

  1. hi! found your blog through the Rumpus comment thread- just wanted to say I 100% agree about Catch-22. one of my favorites, an absolute blueprint for absurdity, period.

    Like

  2. 2 jtsullivan

    Very cool. Thanks for commenting on it, Liz. Yeah, I hadn’t read it in like 15 years, but it’s sort of amazing. I was reading an article about how it came to be, too. It sounds like Heller had it all sort of come to him automatically, and then he just had to put it down on paper. An excerpt of it ran in the same journal where an excerpt of On The Road ran before publication. I never knew that, either. Anyhow, it’s a gem.

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