Originally published January 22nd, 2015
I think all the hype I heard before reading this book wound up working against it in the end. I was extremely disappointed. Usually, I appreciate satire. Especially when directed against the government or society, and its propensity to do things the way things have always been done, or the way it has been ordered to, without questioning or thinking about whether things should be done that way. But I just didn’t find myself appreciating the way Heller illuminated society’s faults. Maybe it was the graphic violence. Maybe it was the pointless deaths. Maybe it was the cardboard, space-filler women he reflexively shoved into the narrative. Heller’s men and women tend to come from two specific areas of society: the men are in the military and the women are prostitutes. But where the men are unique individuals (though they’re not impressive, inspiring, or even decent), the women are exactly the same. That’s one of my literary pet peeves. Though to be fair Heller did write this in the ’60s, and I guess at that point not everyone had figured out women weren’t all cloned from Eve.
I enjoyed Heller’s writing style. His descriptions are unusual and creative, and in the future I could see myself reading one of his other books. Giving him another chance. I’ll let you know how that goes, and if anything changes.