Catch As Catch Can, by Joseph Heller

Catch as Catch Can, by Joseph Heller
Catch as Catch Can – The Collected Stories and Other Writings, by Joseph Heller (Simon and Schuster, July 7, 2011)

When you hear the word “catch” in a title, you immediately think of Heller’s famous WWII novel, Catch 22, written in 1961. The phrase “catch-22″ now means “a double bind”, or a sort of bureaucratic madness. Catch as Catch Can is a collection of Heller’s short stories from 1945 to the 1970s, some featuring the characters he created in Catch 22, like “Yossarian” and “Milo Minderbinder”. Yossarian is doing the opposite of what he tried to do in the army – get out. He is trying to stay in, in hospital that is, because he likes the room, the view and the neighbours.

In contrast with the Catch 22 episodes, Heller’s earlier works are straightforward, tender, sad stories of broken marriages, alcoholics and drug abusers. It seems a bit of a mish-mash, even containing a thoroughly unintelligible “play in one act”, but every so often one can see why Heller is one of the world’s foremost satirists.

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