Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Catch-22 Revisited

So suddenly I realized, "Where is my copy of Catch-22?"

Catch-22 is one of those books I've read, that I know I've read, and I further know that as I read it I enjoyed it; I thought it was a damn good job of writing a book on Heller's part. It's pretty well-revered as a classic. A good solid book, a bulwark in the modern (possibly even, modernist) canon of literature that matters, or ought to matter. I liked it a lot when I read it; I read it in school. It was assigned reading, and therefore, quite an accomplishment on its part, for it to have been enjoyed. A capfeather of sorts. But I could not remember how it ended.

So when I saw it in a bookstore and it caught my eye, I thought: this is a book I should own anyway. And I can read it again, and remember how it ends. How many wins does this situation need? So I plunked down my money right there and then and I bought that book. I bought the FUCK out of it. I took it with me, slipped into a dry white crinkly paper sack with a bookmark from the book shop slip-sliced nice into the thickest part of its center pages.

And I took it home, slid it out of the bag, and began reading it.

And it was doing a good job there, at the git-go! You gotta love Yossarian, even if - what the hell, dude? Some of that stuff! He does seem to make certain things a bit harder on himself than they needed to be, albeit, he cuts so straight to the quick of it in other respects that it's probably a wash. Besides, what if you had his job? Yeah, I thought so!

And the plot as it unspools is so bleakly hilarious, the characters so sharp, each so well-introduced and sparely delineated with spareness to spare, the dialogue is just so damn deathly mordant that the tragic side keeps rising like a tide threatening to swamp that jaunty little boat of black humor, but that boat just keeps on bobbing higher like a rubber duck made out of pure spite, 'til you can't help but feel depressed as hell over the cumulative effect of man's inhumanity to man amongst other sundry themes.

And I'm pretty much clipping along. Pick it up, put it down an hour later as life intrudes, pick it back up again next chance. I am actively reading it.

Then suddenly it's two months later and I can't remember where I left off! Or where I even left the book, last. What the hell? What kind of a letdown is that? That's a pretty disappointing performance, on the part of a big-name classic in the canon of ostensibly thrilling war stories. Right? And I have literally no idea where it is. I can't find it. And I have literally no idea where I left off! I didn't finish it, did I? That could explain why I stopped reading it. But I swore I didn't finish it.

And now I still don't know the end.

Talk about Catch-22!

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