Monday, June 2, 2014

June BC BBC: Catch-22

Catch-22 took a backseat this past month as I instead delved into gender politics and the connection to Frankenstein.  However, Catch-22 will now get its due.

Before reading the book, I hadn’t heard much about it.  The only piece of information I heard regularly was that it was about war.  So going into the reading, I didn’t expect much.  Well, I expected some violence and gore.  But that’s what war is right?

I was pleasantly surprised when instead of being subjected to repeated acts of violence and terror that is war, I was laughing hysterically at the bumbling idiocy of war.

The story follows several members of the same squadron as they all deal with World War II.  Set in a small Mediterranean island, you read about air missions and how the number of missions a man must fly before being sent home keeps getting raised.  Here enters Catch-22: in order for a man to be sent home, he must be ruled crazy by the doctors.  But if you asked to be ruled crazy, then you were obviously still sane enough to fly.  If you keep flying when you don’t really have to, then you’re crazy; and if you didn’t want to fly, then you’re obviously still sane and need to fly. 

What a pickle.

I enjoyed the novel immensely, though occasionally got tripped up trying to keep all the characters straight.  There are some occasional moments of violence, because even though the satire is centered on the bureaucracy of war, it is still a war.  Death and dying come with it.  It’s a package deal.

The reason this book lands on the banned/challenged list is due to one town who found the book had questionable content.  Really what is had was fairly truthful commentary on how men deal with war.  Though it has been suggested that part of the dislike for the book comes from women being called “whores.”  Which is a point I can’t disagree with at all.

There were several quotes I enjoyed:

“Insanity is contagious.” Pg. 14

“Do you know how long a year takes when it’s going away?” pg. 38

“I’ve got these rubber models in my office with all the reproductive organs of both sexes that I keep locked up in separate cabinets to avoid a scandal.” Pg. 42

“She destroyed egos by the score and made men hate themselves in the morning for the way she found them, used them and tossed them aside.” Pg. 70

“It was the despair of Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s life to be chained to a woman who was incapable of looking beyond her own dirty, sexual desires to the titanic struggles for the unattainable in which a noble man could become heroically engaged.” Pg. 73

“That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left.” Pg. 110

“You know, that might be the answer-to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of.  That’s a trick that never seems to fail.” Pg.139

“Nothing so wonderful as war has ever happened to them before; and they were afraid it might never happen to them again.” Pg. 145

“[…] the inevitable beginning of the inevitable end.” Pg. 173

“’Anything worth living for,” said Nately, “is worth dying for.’ ‘And anything worth dying for,” answered the sacrilegious old man, “is certainly worth living for.[…]” pg. 247

“The fall in the hospital had either shown him the light of scrambled his brains; it was impossible to say which.” Pg.330

“They had not brains enough to be introverted and repressed.” Pg. 347

“I like the way you lie.  You’ll go far in this world if you ever acquire some decent ambition.” Pg. 422

“I don’t see heaven or saints or angels.  I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.” Pg. 445

This book reminds me of the film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  It satirizes war perfectly because you know it isn’t all bombs and guns and death.  It’s government related, so there is going to be red tape somewhere.  Overall, an unexpectedly funny story that I would recommend.

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