Random Notes

Walpurgisnacht…

July 24, 2008

All the screwy, bitter black comedy of Catch-22 (I could fill up pages of this blog with a comedic greatest hits) crawls to a climax near the end of the book in The Eternal City episode.   It is a classic night journey, a wandering among horrors, perhaps hallucinatory, perhaps not.  Perceptive early critics called this […]


Chapters and episodes…

Chapters.  Everybody in Catch-22 gets, at least, their own chapter, or two.  It’s one of the reason’s the book was mostly panned early on—“it’s not a novel,” and “it gasps for want of craft and sensibility” (how about sense?), “it’s a collection of anecdotes, a parade of scenes.”  Heller is a “brilliant painter who decides […]


I shouldn’t have seen the movie…

July 23, 2008

I first read Catch-22 back in 1970 or so after the Mike Nichols movie came out—Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Jon Voight—studded with stars of the day and a few fine actors to come, like Martin Sheen or Bob Balaban.  Hell, even Art Garfunkel was in it.  The movie mostly flopped.  It was a hodge podge, […]


What’s so funny?

July 22, 2008

Lucky Jim is not a fall-down laugh riot.  But it doesn’t have to be.  It’s a long series of pleasure bursts fueled by screwy situations and a quirky British style that, in 1954 was fresh, cheeky and new.  Maybe now a little threadbare and weedy, not state of the art.  But it’s still a pleasure. […]


Why Kingsley Amis?

July 19, 2008

I came to Kingsley Amis by way of his son, Martin.  (That fact would have greatly irritated Kingsley.)  Hipster postmodern Martin, essentially my age, whose novels I have tried to like, er, finish…Jesus, I oughta be able to do that, right?  Being a long time Anglophile, I was just drawn to Martin, his stuff like […]