I have a confession to make: I am addicted to Catch-22. It is like a drug, a brain drug. And I just cannot get enough of it.
I’ve blogged about it here. I’m reading what I wrote now. Interesting – I didn’t mention that I’d lost the book. I wonder why. Also, why is my writing so effusive!? I sure was on an emotional high when I wrote that bit.
So yes, Catch-22 is a brilliant book. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea (is anything ever?) but it is most definitely mine. I started re-reading it a few days ago, and the second read is proving far more enjoyable than the first.
As I already mentioned on my Favourite Books page, it’s a difficult read. It jumps around temporally as well as geographically, and does a lot of name- and event-dropping. The first time I read it, I was equal parts amazed and confused. Now that I’m familiar with over two-thirds of the story, I am no longer so confused. (Just a little bit.) The lack of confusion leaves me free to wonder at Heller’s brain capacity and be delighted with his acerbic wit. To give you a metaphor, the first read was like trying to dig myself into a sand beach; the second read is me in a pool of quicksand (we’re assuming here that I want to be buried in quicksand).
It’s so effortless. And I am hooked. But this is not the typical ‘hooked by a page-turner’ that you’d experience when reading, say, Harry Potter or the Millennium Trilogy (both series had me seriously hooked and definitely qualify as page-turners in my library). I am not constantly overwhelmed by the need to know what comes next. What happens when I’m reading Catch-22 is that the world around me ceases to exist. I am completely immersed in the world of Yossarian. I am not so much hooked to the story as by the entire mental process of reading and understanding it. It’s my brain on drugs.
I am at Chapter 8. And boy aren’t I looking forward to reading the rest of the book. I sincerely hope to finish it this time around. Since I didn’t tell you last time I wrote about the book, I might as well tell you now: I lost my first copy. It is the only book I ever lost. And until now I have absolutely no idea how I lost it and where.
OK that’s a lie. I know I lost it in London. But that’s not much to go on. I got home one day and I could no longer find the book. My guess is I left it somewhere or gave it to someone to borrow. As I’ve most likely mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I always carry a book. And this being my favourite book at the time (possibly all the time), I always had it on me. I was so upset when I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t just the frustration of not knowing how I lost it. This physical copy particularly meant a lot to me. I had travelled in Europe that year, and the book had been my travel company. I had it with me in Paris (a city for which I profess eternal love). More importantly, I had it with me in Berlin and spent an entire afternoon reading it on the marble steps of the Soviet war memorial in Treptower Park. Which is the kind of experience one cannot easily replicate, especially if one loses the book.
Anyways, there is no point pining after it now that it’s gone. More so that I am now the proud owner of not one, but two copies of the book. The first one was given to me to replace the one I had lost – it was the perfect gift; you can imagine how happy I was given (a) how much I love the book, (b) how much I love reading, and (c) that I hadn’t finished my first copy. The second copy, which I am currently reading, I took from a hotel in Liverpool (another city I love). No, I did not steal it. Let me explain with some pictures (a.k.a. 3,000 words).
So yes, it’s a story with a happy ending. I have my new copy and am happily addicted to it. There must be such a thing as a healthy addiction, no?
Until next time,
p.s. I do intend to pass the book on once I’ve finished it. I really do…
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