This is a hard review to write because I wanted to love this book. I feel I have failed as a literary appreciator. So many intellectuals and talented authors have praised Catch-22 as a classic, a masterpiece, one of the most important novels ever written ... So I soldiered on and slogged through 453 pages of brilliantly written wit, none of which made much narrative sense or resonated with me in any enjoyable way. I like to think I'm relatively clever, but perhaps I just didn't get it. There were countless moments of pure genius, and my vocabulary was playfully challenged at every new chapter. What humour, what biting commentary, what impressive master of the language.
There is no question that Catch-22 is brilliantly written. But if you asked me what happened, I couldn't tell you. Until the final 50 pages, it felt as though I was treading water in quicksand, really well executed and richly detailed quicksand, but quicksand nonetheless. I couldn't differentiate any of the characters from one another. I know there were several Majors and Colonels and Generals but not a single one of them stood out in any way from any of the others. I had not even realized the story jumped back and forth in time until I read that detail in a review. I just found so little storytelling structure to attach my attention to. It's almost impossible to care what happens next when if feels like nothing has happened in the first place. To all those who will take secret superior pleasure in knowing you appreciate the brilliance of this book while I cannot, I give you this one. But just know, I tried. I really did try to love it.