When just recently I completed this thing about books I had read I said I had read Catch 22 and that was true, but I had struggled to read it. In fact I had struggled more than once. I know several people who tell me this is the best book ever written and it made me feel a bit stupid having to admit that I had never quite got its greatness. Anyway, doing that list prompted me to read it again and hooray! This time I really did appreciate it and understood nearly all of it…though I will never ever understand the maths which meant that Milo could buy eggs in Malta for 7 cents apiece and sell them for five cents and yet still make a profit on them. I must have read that passage in the book a dozen times and still don’t get it. (Capitalism is never a concept I can get my head around. Short selling of shares for example.… WTF? )
Back to Catch 22 and I loved the piece where Colonel Cathcart is looking to the chaplain to provide a prayer to offer up before the flying missions. “I don’t want anything heavy or sad. I’d like you to keep it light and snappy, something that will send the boys out feeling pretty good. I don’t want any of this Kingdom of God or Valley of Death stuff. That’s all too negative. ……. I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.” The exchange concludes with the chaplain saying “I’m sorry, sir, but just about all the prayers I know are rather sombre in tone and make at least some passing reference to God. “
But the last word here has to be given to Yossarian. The psychiatrist tells him “You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re at war and might get your head blown off any second.” Yossarian replies “I more than resent it, sir. I’m absolutely incensed.”
P.S. I have been trying to think what that last line reminded me of and I have finally realised. It seems that some writer for Not the Nine O'Clock News may at one time have read Catch 22.
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