Monitor: JOSEPH HELLER
Tributes to the American author of `Catch-22' who died on Sunday
Saturday 18 December 1999
THE TIGHT comedy of the writing and the philosophical dilemma at the core of Catch-22 did not, however, win instant acclaim. Reviews were mixed and sales unspectacular. It slowly gained status as an underground classic, and its mood of sardonic absurdity struck ever-greater chords with the US people as the debacle of Watergate followed the disaster of Vietnam.
CATCH-22 ANNOUNCED Heller as a novelist of a kind that does not occur more than once in a generation. From the moment of its publication it became one of those books whose title is on every lip. It went beyond the merely satirical, seeming to provide readers from widely differing walks of life with something by which to measure their own experience.
THE BOOK, with its anti-war, anti-organisation, anti-chauvinistic philosophy, changed Heller's life.The major catch for Heller was that he never achieved the same success again. Though he wrote six or seven more good books in his life, none had the same power as the first. Heller, a perfectionist, took this to heart.
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