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Joseph Heller
Topic Started: Jul 22 2011, 07:10 PM (786 Views)
nnyhav
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what, no thread?

to open: via A&LD, VF on The War for Catch-22 extracted & adapted from bio

(Closing Time didn't come close as I recall ...)
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Funhouse
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The Angel of Forgetfulness

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In Something Happened, and in his first, most famous novel, Catch-22, Heller had documented, more vividly and humorously than any of his contemporaries, the path of World War II veterans in our national life. As it turned out, their path was our national life until recently, which is perhaps why people said to me, time and again, when I mentioned I was writing about Joseph Heller, “Oh, I think of him as the most American writer.”

In stepping into Heller’s circle, I had felt the panting of the Angels of Death and Forgetfulness, and as a result I came to think of him as quintessentially “American” in another way. Our popular national literature consists of various genres serving many functions: speaking snippily, we might say these genres offer aesthetic formulas for those of us who don’t wish to work hard for artistic pleasures, or they provide dependable market niches for writers and publishers. But they also (I have come to understand, pursuing Heller’s path) form chambers to accommodate memories and experiences that are genuinely, eccentrically American.
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Funhouse
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Morris Dickstein at The Daily Beast: The Catch in “Catch-22”

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For all its low comedy, Catch-22 ultimately treats war as a metaphor for a Pascalian universe, a prison-house from which each of us is led off to die. This vision belongs to the dark side of the 1950s, but its radically disillusioned sense of absurdity and collective insanity became a theme song of the following decade. It is rooted in a grunt’s-eye view of war that had been a staple of comedy going back to Aristophanes and Shakespeare. When Prince Hal tells Falstaff that “thou owest God a death,” he demurs. “‘Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before his day.” Careful of his own tender flesh, proud of his cowardice and his cunning, Falstaff ridicules honor as an empty word, a posthumous achievement: “Who hath it? He that died o-Wednesday.” The insane trench warfare of World War I, with its astronomical loss of human life, brought this home afresh. A curdled view of military valor soon burst into modern literature with Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk and Céline’s scabrous Journey to the End of Night, both rich literary models for Heller.


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KomicalKamikazee
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One of my irrational ways of thinking is that some people are meant to be one-book authors. As in, after I've read their one important book, reading anything else afterwards would just tarnish my opinion of the author, and thus in unconscious ways make me like those great books even less.

JH and Catch-22 is one of these. I loved the book, but I can't bring myself to read anything else he wrote. Same with Robert Penn Warren and All the Kings Men, Ken Kesey too, I guess. Maybe someday I'll get over this.

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KomicalKamikazee
Sep 27 2011, 09:13 PM
One of my irrational ways of thinking is that some people are meant to be one-book authors.
Oh yes, totally irrational, :) . I've read many truly disappointing things by A. S. Byatt but I still consider Possession to be one of my all-time favorite novels. And come on, does the utter train-wreck of The Two Gentlemen of Verona tarnish the greatness of King Lear in ANY way?
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KomicalKamikazee
Sep 27 2011, 09:13 PM
Kesey too, I guess.
SOmetimes a Great Notion is IMO significantly superior to his more famous novel.
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Does your opinion count for ANYthing with KK? :P If it was me, I'd be like, Um, yeah, and so I continue... LOL. Poor M. (OK, OK, I'm kidding!).
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Jayaprakash
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I really like Picture This, his strange history hopping novel. Ancient Greece, Rembrandt, the birth of modern capitalism and whatnot. God Knows is amusing but rather self-indulgent.
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Liam
Sep 27 2011, 09:33 PM
Does your opinion count for ANYthing with KK? :P If it was me, I'd be like, Um, yeah, and so I continue... LOL. Poor M. (OK, OK, I'm kidding!).
Johnny agrees with me and he has the most dumbfoundingly brilliant literary instincts of all of us on this board.
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Canox
Sep 27 2011, 09:39 PM
Johnny agrees with me
Who's he then?
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Liam
Sep 27 2011, 09:42 PM
Canox
Sep 27 2011, 09:39 PM
Johnny agrees with me
Who's he then?
johnnywalkitoff, the one with the non-reading lawyer wife and the medical marihuana.
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Canox
Sep 27 2011, 09:51 PM
the non-reading lawyer wife
I'm sure she reads her briefs before she proceeds to draw his down, :P (Johnny, I do apologize, but this exactly the kind of humor that got Liam intro trouble at the WLF).
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Liam
Sep 27 2011, 09:57 PM
Johnny, I do apologize
I'm sure Johnny has gone into details about his marital sexual escapades somewhere on this forum.

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Mon Dieu! Heller be damned.
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Liam
Sep 27 2011, 10:07 PM
Mon Dieu! Heller be damned.
That said, Johnny also loves Heller's second novel.


Is it creepy that we are talking about him at such length?

His wife has cautioned me on FB that she doesn't appreciate men sucking her husband's cock. Hee. I'm meeting him in November (hopefully) and I might well be tempted. :laugh: He's a very pretty boy.

The second gorgeous Woodsperson I'll be meeting within a few months. And I'll hunt down Twinky who'll come to Germany next year. I should make a checklist. Anyone else? :)
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Jayaprakash
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Is it okay if women er telephone his groin?
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Jayaprakash
Sep 27 2011, 10:28 PM
Is it okay if women er telephone his groin?
Since she explicitly discussed men who have designs on the alabaster body of her husband, I assume women are allowed.
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Canox
Sep 27 2011, 10:37 PM
Since she explicitly discussed men who have designs on the alabaster body of her husband, I assume women are allowed.
That's OK, M, you have just over a month to turn yourself into a she-male, :P

Straight chicks are weird. What, they think gay men are THAT desperate? I mean, their husbands should only be so lucky, right? My bff also told me that when she gets married, she fully intends to keep her hubby away from me, :eek:
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Liam
Sep 27 2011, 10:42 PM
Canox
Sep 27 2011, 10:37 PM
Since she explicitly discussed men who have designs on the alabaster body of her husband, I assume women are allowed.
That's OK, M, you have just over a month to turn yourself into a she-male, :P

Straight chicks are weird. What, they think gay men are THAT desperate? I mean, their husbands should only be so lucky, right? My bff also told me that when she gets married, she fully intends to keep her hubby away from me, :eek:
Well, it was in direct response to my hitting on him in a thread on FB ;)

I'm afraid I will bore him dreadfully when I'm there :(
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Canox
Sep 27 2011, 10:48 PM
Well, it was in direct response to my hitting on him in a thread on FB ;) I'm afraid I will bore him dreadfully when I'm there :(
You should try not to hit on people who are entirely, 100% unavailable, M. Unless you're doing it in infinite jest, of course. I can't imagine you boring anybody, even myself, and I'm easily bored. I thought you had, ahem, medicinal marijuana in common?
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