Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Catch-22 not so Catchy

I'm finding it difficult to delve into my current novel. I've been reading this book on lunch breaks for over a week now, and I'm only on page 86 - those of you who know my reading style know that I should be mostly finished the book by now (for example, it took me less time to read 1984 than it has for me to reach page 86 of this book).

I find myself comparing this novel to Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot. Logic is circular, reason is non-existent and the world found within is a giant paradox. That irritates me. Granted, some things found within are clever: concerning Major Major Major Major, Heller writes, "Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them," calling to mind, of course, the comedic scene in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in which Malvolio reads aloud a forged letter from Olivia praising his skills and physique (and the yellow stockings!), where the line originally ran "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them!"

However, I find the majority of the novel thus far irritating. One character tells another character a story and mentions "St Gregory" several times. The storyteller winds up his story with a question of why that event transpired. Character two replies, "Maybe it was St Gregory!" Storyteller: "Who the devil is St Gregory?" Grr.

Regarding Major Major Major Major's father: "Major Major's father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a longlimbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn't earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major's father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa."

It's just not my style. Reading a book about things that are not happening somehow make me feel as if for every minute that I'm reading it, I'm wasting five minutes of good reading time. However, it seems to be an important book to the literary community, and so I continue. Les Miserables also spent a fair amount of time with soliloquies such as, "If Jean had've noticed a road off to the side to the left of the tree and taken that road, he would have come across this old house where so-and-so had lived three generations previously blah blah blah..." And that was one of the best stories that I have ever encountered, be it in the written, spoken or acted form. So maybe there is yet hope for this book.


lstew said...

waiting for godot is spectacularly unfun to read - so i can understand your challenge in catch 22.

Anonymous said...

Not happening, EH?