Friday, 3 October 2008

The Catch

We all know by now that when there is a list that could in any way conceivably be construed as a 'Things You Must Do' list, WhyNotSmile is as unable to resist as a QuestionMonkey in a theology debate. It is for this reason that I am currently reading my way through the following:
  • The Booker Prize winning books, since the dawn of time (read 15 out of 41)
  • The Guardian Top 100 Books of all time (read 53 out of 100)
  • The BBC Big Read Top 100 Books of all time (read 49 out of 100)
Furthermore, the Costa/Whitbread award winners are being kept in reserve.

The problem is, we've hit a snag: a fairly big, 500+ pages snag, in the form of Catch-22. I just can't get through it. It's not that it's dull exactly - in fact, it's very funny - more that it's a bit wearing after a while. There seems to be nothing much in the way of a storyline; the characters appear to exist simply to convey jokes. Much like WhyNotSmile, you might say.

At the moment I'm about half-way through, and determined not to give up, even though this is the first time in history that I've had to renew a library book because it took me longer than the allotted time to read it.

If anyone has read this book, can you please reassure me that I'll make it to the end? I mean, it's number 11 on the BBC Big Read list, so there must be lots of people out there who've read it and enjoyed it. Please tell me what I'm missing.


Anonymous said...

The problem you're having with Catch-22 may be its period-specific political satire. The disjointed, 'stream-of-consciousness' writing style of Joseph Heller was popular during the psychedelic, anti-war movement of the American 1960's. (See the works of Jack Kerouac.)

The book reads like a hysterically funny acid dream to this Viet Nam veteran. Although it takes place in WWII, the insane logic of war shines through and speaks to all ages. Good luck!

Gort (on SoF)

whynotsmile said...

Ah, I see! That might be it... it is a bit like listening to someone else explaining a dream they had...

Maybe I need to sit back and just read it...


smooth stones in my hand said...

I totally agree! I was shamed into 'borrowing' this book from the school library after one of my Year 14 pupils mentioned he was reading it.

I've struggled through the first couple of pages and on skimming on ahead I don't think there's any way I'm going to finish it.

Ah well, I can always re-read some Austen for the millionth time instead.

whynotsmile said...

Glad someone else has struggled!! I had a bit of a push over the weekend, and have made it to about page 350 or so - so nearly there (there are 507 pages, I think).

Not convinced it has got any better though... but ploughing on and keeping my eye on 'The Inheritance of Loss' which is lined up next.

bresker said...

I read it when I was 19 and recovering from a major kidney opration. On a morphine drip, in a ward of crazy old men, it was brilliant. It made me forget my woes.

I tried to re-read it last year, but it seemed like a pale imitation of itself.

I have become jaded.