Catch 22

By Megan Thomas

I had such a weird experience with Catch 22. I stopped about a third of the way through, despite very rarely abandoning books, because I just felt like reading it was becoming a dreaded chore rather than something that’s meant to be fun. Then, two books and an obsessive personality later, I picked it back up with the hopes of just powering through the rest. 

From the moment I picked it back up, this book and I have been inseparable. In the forward, Joseph Heller discusses how for every person who loves his book, there’s been another who hates it for the exact same reasons as the other loved it. Now, here I am: both of those people. Suddenly, what I found painfully meaningless is acutely aware and hilarious. 

What seemed intolerably nonsensical now seems like the only possible way to write a 20th century world in which nothing makes sense. The main character Yossarian’s plight to try leave the war opens a realm of existential voids and loops, man’s desire to rationalise irrationality and order the disorderly, reaching finish lines only to have them moved, and the lunacy of war; all mirrored in the story and characters. 

It’s safe to say nobody will ever be able to convince me to abandon a book mid-way again (though this probably shouldn’t be the take-away from this story, but maybe just a warning that your state of mind can drastically affect your interpretation of it). Did anyone have something similar? Or are people usually one or the other, rather than both people described by the author? 

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