The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Catch-22’

Did The Moviegoer Fix the NBAs? And Other News

November 5, 2012 | by

  • It was considered a huge upset when The Moviegoer beat out Catch-22, Revolutionary Road, and Franny and Zooey for the 1962 National Book Award. Slate asks: Was the fix in? And why?
  • Speaking of snubbing Richard Yates: “Each time Yates shuffled into Roads that summer, I avoided making eye contact. Why didn’t he get help, join AA?” Leslie Absher recounts her interactions with the author.
  • Books written from beyond the grave. Dead Mark Twain was especially prolific.
  • You may be dead before you finish these: a slideshow of those books most difficult to finish.
  • He apparently hated beards, and other trivia about Roald Dahl.
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    Transitory Lifestyles; Comic Novels

    February 17, 2012 | by

    Because of my school’s academic structure, I pack up my possessions and move every two to three months, ricocheting between school, home, and New York. In fact, I’m leaving the city this weekend. This kind of transience can be refreshing, but it is also disorienting, and it can make life feel fragmented or compartmentalized. If you could recommend reading material that addresses the issue of the transitory lifestyle, it might make the journey a little easier.

    Whether you’re looking for seekers (The Razor’s Edge), free spirits (On the Road), ramblers (the Little House books) or the Picaresque (Tristram Shandy) there’s no shortage of literary traveling companions. Keep in mind that unstable, constantly-relocating parents also make for memorable childhoods, so the memoir section is rife with tales of itinerant life!

    What is the funniest book ever written?

    I don’t feel this is a question one person can answer definitively for all sorts of obvious reasons, although I will say NOT The Ginger Man, since all sorts of people, mostly men, are wont to go into ecstasies about its alleged hilarity. But then, lots of the reputedly uproarious classics have left me cold, so what do I know?

    You don’t need me to list the “great comic novels” for you—Tom Jones, Tristram Shandy, Lucky Jim … the list goes on. I feel like the “right” answer to this question is something like Ulysses, but I’d be lying if I said it had me in stitches. (Although Mark Twain genuinely has.) Several in the canon get resounding plaudits from my colleagues here: Catch-22 and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are considered comedy classics for a reason.

    Says Lorin, “The Tetherballs of Bougainvillea made me laugh longest. London Fields made me laugh hardest (Marmaduke: projectile tears of laughter). Home Land made me laugh loudest. Mark Twain’s sketches and the Jeeves books make me laugh most reliably.”

    Deirdre adds that Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask should not be ignored.

    As for me, I’ve mentioned it before, but After Claude was the last book to actually make me laugh out loud. I love Scoop, and early parts of The Pursuit of Love. (Although I find Waugh and Mitford’s correspondence funnier than either.) E.F. Benson’s “Mapp and Lucia” series has moments of absolute hilarity. Pictures from an Institution should be in there, surely.

    Disclaimer: I find certain scenes in Excellent Women genuinely funny, but Lorin said that he didn’t laugh once, so.

    Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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    On the Shelf

    October 12, 2011 | by

    Steve Jobs. Photo by COG LOG LAB.

    A cultural news roundup.

  • Roberto Saviano has won the PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award for his exposés on the Naples mafia.
  • Steve Jobs, the movie?
  • Catch-22, the cartoon!
  • Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is now an editor at large at Faber & Faber.
  • Christopher Hitchens: “The influence of Larkin is much greater than I thought. He’s perfect for people who are thinking about death. You’ve got that old-line Calvinist pessimism and modern, acid cynicism—a very good combo. He’s not liking what he sees, and not pretending to.”
  • Amy Winehouse’s father, Mitch, will write a memoir.
  • Asterix goes on the road in his retirement.
  • Audio fiction goes Hollywood.
  • Dale Carnegie goes digital.
  • Margaret Atwood goes green.
  • Coetzee’s papers, meanwhile, go to the University of Texas.
  • “The first real recipes for what you could identify as biscotti come from about 1550 or so.”
  • Franzen on David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction.
  • Literary matchmaking.
  • Literary jerks.
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    Catch-18

    August 4, 2011 | by

    A manuscript page from Catch-22. Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

    When Dad started Catch-22 in 1953, it was called Catch-18. Later, he and his young editor, Robert Gottlieb, changed the title because Leon Uris’s novel had usurped the number with Mila 18. I can remember nights at the dinner table with my parents tossing out different numbers. “Catch-27?” Nah, my father shook his head. “Catch-539?” Too long, too lumbering. I had no idea what they were talking about. Thank goodness for Bob, Dad’s übereditor at Simon & Schuster; he was the one to come up with the unremarkably remarkable number 22. Along with Dad’s redoubtable agent, Candida Donadio, and Nina Bourne, who plotted the clever, quirky promotional campaign for Catch-22, these were the book’s earliest disciples. Without them, not only wouldn’t there have been a number, there wouldn’t have been a book.

    To hear Bob talk about it, this modest, soft-spoken fellow who eventually ran Simon & Schuster and then Alfred A. Knopf, and succeeded William Shawn as editor of The New Yorker, one might think that Catch-22 had just tumbled from the skies one day fully formed, and that he had merely been there to catch it. In print he has said more than once that for an editor to call attention to himself and his contributions in an edited book is not only unseemly but irrelevant, but he’s not doing it here, I am. My father and Bob had real camaraderie and shared an almost mystical respect. No ego was involved, regardless of where Bob’s pencil flew or what he suggested deleting, moving, rewriting. To Dad, every word or stroke of this editor’s pencil was sacrosanct. Read More »

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    The Angel of Forgetfulness

    August 1, 2011 | by

    Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was first published fifty years ago this fall. Heller’s biographer, Tracy Daugherty, marks the occasion with a consideration of the author’s legacy.

    Joseph Heller in Rome, summer 1966. Courtesy Erica Heller.

    In the early 1970s, during the period he was writing his second novel, Something Happened, Joseph Heller, approaching his fifties, fretted about his health. He was shocked by how bloated he looked in mirrors. The double chins in his publicity photos bothered him. He began working out regularly at a YMCA in the sixties on Broadway in Manhattan, running four miles a day on a small track there. “The Angel of Death is in the gym today,” said the Y’s patrons every so often. Not infrequently, ambulance crews showed up to cart away, on a stretcher, an elderly man in a T-shirt and shorts who had collapsed while running or doing chin-ups.

    While exercising, Heller avoided meeting anyone’s eyes. He pursued his laps with grim seriousness. He worried about the slightest ache or twinge—in his lower back, bladder, calves, the tendons of his ankles, or bottoms of his feet. Sometimes, faint vertical pains shot through his chest and up through his collarbone. This was a hell of a way to try to feel better.

    In this melancholy spirit (stretching, rolling his arms to ease the needling pains), he squirreled away portions of Something Happened in a locker at the Y, in case fire ran through his apartment or his writing studio, or he keeled over one day.

    In the spring of 1974—a fit fifty-one-year-old—he completed the manuscript to his satisfaction and decided to copy it for his agent. He took his teenage daughter, Erica, with him to the copy shop. “I figured if a car hit me, if I got mugged, or if I dropped dead of a heart attack, the manuscript might still be saved,” he later told Erica. Read More »

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