Catch-22 Déjà Vu

Not just mesmeric but POLYmesmeric.

Not just mesmeric but POLYmesmeric.

I don’t normally re-read books because there is already too little time to read new ones.  But my book club recently chose Catch-22 and it being a classic, and remembering feeling thrilled by it when I was twenty, and fearing book club wrath, I decided to make an exception.  I did not regret it.  It gave me an almost constant feeling of déjà vu.  And sure, it was in fact a case of déjà read but I don’t think other re-read books would have left my head spinning with the same degree of recognition.  At times, I could feel myself thinking the same thoughts I had upon the first read or laughing at the same bits.  It astounded me at how little the way I see or think about things seems to have changed.  But there were also encouraging signs that I’ve not been completely set in my ways since a disturbingly early age.  Insights (and, at times, the chapters devoted to them) that at twenty seemed risky, dangerous even, now struck me, as well, juvenile, and Heller definitely is of the school of thought that if a joke worth telling once, it’s worth telling enough times that any comedy gets completely wrung dry.  But in the end, even though I was far more critical and a lot less patient with the book’s repetition, lack of restraint and its astoundingly sexist depiction women, I still found it powerful and (despite the repetition) original.  But read it while you’re still young.

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