Thursday, 7 January 2010

The rest of Catch-22

Joseph Heller's Closing Time, as a sequel to Catch-22, is what happens when all the life is sucked out of the characters, and they're all a bit depressed. It's not bad, of course not, but it's not very easy to read. All the insanity and humour of Catch-22 seems to have left these characters fifty years ago. They're mainly just dieing of cancer and looking back on every inch of their life. It's about degredation - long, painful, agonising degredation. Not very fun then, but Heller hasn't completely lost his morbid comedy. Yossarian's doing alright, living off Milo's money and pretending to be ill in hospital; he has developed an annoying habit of comparing everything to pretentious German opera, so you can't have everything. Some of the most entertaining sections of the book are the memories of the Second World War, which the character's strangely describe as one of the best times of their life. Disappointingly though, Major Major never turns up.

There's a surprising supernatural twist half way through the book that really saved it for me. The surreal military underworld brought back some of the energy that was ebbing away. Heller seems to put the reader into this melancholic daydream before shaking everything up with the end of the world. Not gripping then, but it does have its moments.

1 comment:

  1. Catch 22 is one of my favourite books, I don't think anyone's ever written anything funnier. But, I've never read the second book. I can't bring myself too. Like I've never watched the Jaws sequels. Sometimes it's best just to leave things alone.