Catch 22. Juno. (There’s no connection)
“There was only one catch, and that was Catch-22.”
Only one catch, and there was no way of winning. You were caught in the machine and you had to play along – the machine being, of course, the bureaucracy, in this anti-war epic. The main character is Yossarian – the first out of his squad to realize that him and his friends were nothing short of meat in the eyes of their superiors: col. Cathcart (and his constant increase of mandatory missions), col Korn, or rival generals Dreedle and Peckem. So many of the dialogues and actions are absurd or paradoxical that they end up being funny. At first you’re a bit taken aback by the seeming lack of chronology, but once you’re in, it’s easy to keep up, even amongst the many references to other cultural stepping stones. The book itself is something like a catch-22.
Oh, and there’s a weird story about the choice of title – I was curious to see if the number had a particular symbolism, and this is what I found on wikipedia: A magazine excerpt from the novel was originally published as Catch-18, but Heller’s publisher, Candida Donadio, requested that it change the title of the novel so it would not be confused with another recently published World War II novel, Leon Uris’s Mila 18. The number 18 has special meaning in Judaism and was relevant to early drafts of the novel which had a somewhat greater Jewish emphasis. There was a suggestion for the title Catch-11, with the duplicated 1 in parallel to the repetition found in a number of character exchanges in the novel, but due to the release of the 1960 movie Ocean’s Eleven this was also rejected. Catch-14 was also rejected apparently because the publisher did not feel that 14 was a “funny number.” Catch-17 was also rejected so as not to be confused with the World War II film Stalag 17. So eventually the title came to be Catch-22, which, like 11, has a duplicated digit with the 2 also referring to a number of déjà vu like events common in the novel as well as being Donadio’s birthday.
Funny what can influence a simple title…
As for me, the longer it takes for to read a book the less I like it. Thing is, this time…I am totally indifferent. I can see why, technically speaking it’s a very good book, a tour de force, if you will (there’s a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle on the back cover saying just that), I get the very determined anti-war position, I get the humor…but that’s all. Characters come and go, and I simply didn’t care, I felt a bit like “one less name to remember” and not even Yossarian (a sort of a anti-hero actually) managed to spark any kind of emotion in me. That’s why Mr. Heller’s follow-up Closing Time won’t land on my bookshelves any time soon 😀
And now, for part 2. Juno 🙂 I wanted to write a separate post about it right after I finished seeing it, but I was too lazy. It’s been labeled as “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine”…just like Atonement is called “this year’s Titanic” – it seems there’s a whole trend of such comparisons going around. Well, Juno is nothing like LMS, but it’s just as great. Character in the title is a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant accidentally, after sleeping once with her best friend. There could be a whole drama out of this, abortion, abandonment, society outcast…the works. But no, Juno is a fun, sarcastic, optimistic girl, with a very supportive and understanding family, who decides to give the baby up for adoption. And the way she thinks and acts, the half-mature, half-childish she handles a very delicate situation, the lack of cheap drama and useless sentimentalism, her hands-on approach – it’s just so refreshing. Diablo Cody (writer) should have gotten the Globe. It’s a must see, definitely…and also a must-listen (The Moldy Peaches, Belle & Sebastian, Kimya Dawson…I just love when the soundtrack rounds of the movie so so well 😉 )