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by Joseph Heller - 14 Mar 2008
| A stunning masterpiece on every level
By Robert Moore (Chicago, IL USA) - © Amazon.com
CATCH-22 is masterful in so many ways. It begins as comic farce, proceeds to the increasingly surreal, and then transforms into a nightmarish tragedy before ending triumphantly. No novel that I know so successfully blends all these disparate moods. I believe it was Hugh Walpole who wrote, "Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel." No book illustrates that better than this novel. This truly is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is also one of the most tragic.
CATCH-22 also introduces one of the most insane collection of great characters in fiction: Yossarian, the Chaplain, Orr, ex-P.F.C Wintergreen, Milo Minderbender, Maj. Major Major Major, Nately, Doc Daneeka, Danby, General Dreedle, Nately's girl (not the description in the book, but Amazon's software will bleep it), Cathcart, Nurse Duckett, The Texan, Major ----- de Coverley, The Soldier in White, and a host of other characters. It is one of the most gloriously populated novels of the past half century.
This is a novel I can almost not discuss except through superlatives: greatest war novel I have read, funniest novel I have ever read, greatest English language novel of the past 40 years. But the best thing is that it is, on top of being a superb book, an exceedingly fun book to read. Even at its nightmarish, this is a fun, delightful book. And few novels contain as many unforgetable moments as this one.
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