ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Catch As Catch Can - A Book Review

Updated on January 21, 2015
Catch as Catch Can - A great read.
Catch as Catch Can - A great read. | Source

Catch as Catch Can - Joseph Heller's Short Stories - A Book Review

Almost everyone the world over knows who Joseph Heller is or has at least heard of his most famous work. Even over a decade after his death he is remembered for his seminal work, Catch-22, a book so famous its title has been adopted into every day language as a term used whenever you find yourself in a situation where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

I read Catch-22 several years ago and fell in love with characters such as Yossarian, Milo and Major Major, so when I spied this book, Catch As Catch Can, there was never a question as to whether I would read it or not.

The bigger question is would I enjoy it and add it to my list of books I bore my friends with by constantly recommending that they too must read it.

I am my own personal, opinionated Oprah book club, so is this Catch as Catch Can worthy of the title?

Catch As Catch Can - Great prices for a great book

Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings
Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings

A classic tale of a man who is caught between a rock and a hard place.. or you could say stuck in a catch 22 situation..

Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller | Source

What is Catch as Catch Can all about?

Catch As Catch Can is a collection of short stories that Heller wrote both before and after Catch-22 and includes several discussions of the book and even one chapter that was deleted from the final draft entitled 'Yossarian Survives'.

So immediately if you are a fan of Catch-22, it's a fascinating look at what the author thought of the novel as well as his input in to the motion picture that was made several years later. Without posting spoiler alerts it is fair to say that by the time Heller had flown 60 sorties above Europe during WW2 and watched men such as him plummet to their early, grisly deaths, he was never going to be overwhelmed by any Hollywood overtures or literary hyperbole.

The man himself summed it up well when he said he was more interested in the money than artistic control. The caveat being that he kept the stage rights.


Catch-22 - A Must Read

Catch 22
Catch 22

An all time classic and a must read if you are to truly enjoy Catch as Catch Can.

Young Joseph Heller
Young Joseph Heller | Source

Early Short Stories

The first short stories date back to 1945, when Heller at the tender age of 22 had his short story 'I Don't Love You Any More' published, there after follows an evolution in his writing style.

It is a fascinating journey of a young writer finding his feet and mimicking the styles he was studying whilst writing on the subjects of bookmakers, bars and New York.Each one of the stories is a character study which leads you towards what I believe a young Heller thought would be either a surprise or poignant ending.

Heller himself admits that he was at this time writing about things on which he knew nothing, except what he had read written by others. But as the small child grows, so does Heller's writing.


Later Short Stories

This is where Heller discusses life after Catch-22 including his role, or lack of it, in the movie as well as a nostalgic journey he took back to Corsica to revisit the places where he spent his time during the war.

He soon finds that taking your teenage children on a journey of reminiscence through wartime memories is fraught with disappointment for both the children who are bored and frustrated and for him as he finds that a field is now just a field and the memories of what happened are just memories, which no matter how vivid in your mind, remains only vivid to you.

Heller also reminisces about his childhood growing up in Coney Island as well as describing the moment during his sixty wartime missions that he became scared (Mission 37). There is also a one act play based on chapter 8 of Catch-22, entitled 'Clevinger's Trial' as well as a short entitled 'The Day Bush Left', a scathing look at George Bush Senior and what would have happened if he had of resigned before the end of his term.

Needless to say GB1 wasn't held in high esteem by Heller. It is probably a blessing for him that he passed away before GB2 had been in office for 8 long years.

As a final treat for Catch-22 fans there is a short story called Catch-23, which I won't spoil, except to say it follows Yossarian and his brushes with the world and medical profession later in life.


Should You Read Catch as Catch Can?

I must admit my initial excitement at finding this book was slightly tempered when I read the editors need to ameliorate by stating that this book is not Joseph Heller's wastebasket.

Also there is always a risk as a reader and a fan when you commence reading a book that was composed by editors and includes works that Heller never published whilst he was alive.

A writer loses all editorial control when he dies, so the journey you undertake in this book may not be one that the author himself wished you to complete. Regardless of this, 'Catch As Catch Can' rewards Catch-22 fans with insights into the book and its author as well as showing Heller's journey towards his magnum opus.

Returning back to my Oprah persona, the one strong recommendation I would give before you undertake this book is that you read Catch-22 first.

Trust me on this one.

All About The Man - Joseph Heller

Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller
Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller

Want a more in depth look into the life of Joseph Heller? Then what could be better than this in depth biography of the man.


What are your thoughts on Catch as Catch Can?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)