Monthly Archives: October 2015

10 Favourite Books – part 13 – Honourable Mentions

Dear readers,

Roman Tales by Alberto Moravia

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Now, like other books, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this one before. I found this book with a pile of others being compiled by my mother, stacked neatly in a box in my old brother’s room, ready to go to a charity shop. The book caught my eye because of the orange cover and at publishers were using these vintage marketing schemes to sell their books at the time. This was i 2010, if I remember right, before I came to Honduras. I skimmed through and read the synopsis and I had that gut feeling that this was a fantastic book.

I wasn’t wrong.

I didn’t know much about Alberto Moravia at the time but I did my research and bought a few of his books, one of which was Two Women which I accidentally left on a plane and annoys me to this day. I still haven’t read his book The Comformist, which is said to be his best work, but this book, meerly out of forgetting how great it is, was just knocked out my 10 favourite books. It is an anthology of short stories set in Rome in the 1940s and 50s if I remember right. All short stories have a poignant message for me, but these send you on different waves of thinking that had me contemplating for weeks I remember, but also inspired me to do the same. They contain intense emotions and mysterious and sly characters, who make conforming people do non-comforming in some shape or form. It may seem like normal plots to normal short stories, but he has a flow to his writing, written with a jesty seriousness makes you wonder if Moravia is mocking your way of thinking.

Later in life Alberto Moravia wrote quite a few perverted books – i.e. porn – some of which I have read but not sure if I enjoyed. It is very hard to get hold of his other books here in Honduras (his Kindle books are strangely hugely overpriced – shame on you Amazon), so if I can find a volunteer to send me some of his work, second hand books maybe, it would be massively appreciated (not the porn though).

I don’t know if it is still open, but there is a cafe/bar (due to a tragic incident that I will comment on in a future post) in Tegucigalpa named Cafe Paradiso which I’ve written about before, and it’s also a place that my parents really like. They have/had a cocktail named after Moravia, which gave me a whole new affinity with the cafe and in my first couple of years in Tegus, I could easily let a couple of hours pass by with a random book and said cocktail in hand. It is/was a nice cafe bar in its own right, but for me personally, it’s very own romantic Moravia tale (and also where I took Pam on many of our first dates).

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10 Favourite Books – part 12 – Honourable Mentions

Dear readers,

I am now going to recount the books which nearly made my favourites list but didn’t quite make it, for whatever reason.

The Bible

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Yes, you may well have heard of this one. A best-seller, they say, although I don’t know how it ranks against selling figures for The Koran and 50 Shades of Grey. They say it contains the God’s word, although I leave that for you to make your own mind up. The reason I did not include it on my list is that I haven’t yet finished. In fact, I’m still reading Genesis. In the Old Testament, God has been labelled homophomic and evil by all sorts of thinkers. I’ve not got to those juicy bits yet, but my view is that God is good and God didn’t write this nor committed these atrocities. God, for me, is slapping His head and saying, “Why do my holy children screw me like this and put words in my mouth?” Creation or the Big Bang? I personally have no idea but I feel it is interesting for all to read it and form their own peaceful judgement (saying that, judging is a sin and I don’t want you to commit that, so I will rephrase myself and say “accept it for what it is and let others believe what they wish to believe).

People say that Gabriel Garcia Marquez invented magic realism but you can see clearly, just from reading the Old Testament, that this genre has been around for a long, long time. People might say that my words are blashemy, but I don’t think so. The Bible is meant to inspire, like fables, that have a message to help put us back in-line and behave ourselves. I don’t agree with the homophobia and sexism content, but I don’t agree with fearing God either and He does not want to be feared. The New Testament I’m looking forward to (I’ve a long way to go). From what I’ve read, in pieces, Jesus does not come across as the tyrant God in the Old Testament, but someone who teaches peace (I hope He returns soon). The writing flows and is broken down so you can dip in and out. Whatever your belief, it’s worth a read.

Othello by William Shakespeare

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On Desert Island Discs, contestants have to choose between the complete works of Shakespeare or The Bible. Well, I’m showing a very polite middle finger to that rule and choosing both. I studied this for my A1 or A2 Level English Language and Literature course at Bournville College of Further Education. My tutor was Clive Phillips and he was one furious curly-haired man who I found fascinating and infuriating. He was a quick yet deep thinker, but he would torment the class by asking us hilariously crass personal questions which sent us tripping into some land of paranoia. A bit like Iago would do to poor Othello and Desdemona. Luckily it didn’t end in tragedy for myself (sorry for the spoiler) as I got good enough grades to be accepted into university. We also studied Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Ted Hughes’s copy) which Shakespeare apparently scamped a few stories from. No direct proof of this, mind, but back in his day plot-lines were used in various forms, and the similarities between some of the poems and Shakespeare’s work does not look coincidental. Not knocking Willy Shakespeare, who is from Stratford-Upon-Avon, just down the road from where I was brought up in Hall Green, Birmingham. I have read other Shakespeare plays and been to see many great performances at the mystical University of Birmingham’s gardens on beautiful English warm summer nights (some of them very wet, too). I have yet to read Macbeth and Hamlet, which I somewhat regret. Maybe one day. I feel cocky for not including Willy in my favourites, especially for the wisdom and humour flowing from his work, but I just favoured other books. That’s my only reason.


10 favourite books – part 11 – Recap

Dear readers,

So there you have it. My ten favourite books. Some might say that it’s a bit premature to be making such lists at the age of 35, but I do remember starting it just over a month ago in the Espresso Americano cafeteria in Proceres, basing it on the incredibly long-running Desert Island Discs BBC Radio 4 show, and since then it has been entralling to myself more than anyone seeing what my memories my sub-conscious drags up. Sometimes it was about what I was doing at that stage of my life, or about people that I associate with the book. Feelings too. What I learned from it. Most importantly, why it is a favourite. I’ve surpised myself by realising how important these books are to me. Later in life, I might cheat myself, and pick my top twenty books, then top thirty, and so forth, because even though doing this has proved very taxing having read so many amazing books, it also reminds me that I’ve read so little. And that kills me. When I was small I would wonder idly and rather pointlessly if there’s someone in the world who’s read every single book, ever (if YOU have I recommend you lift your head for air and maybe go out for a walk and meet people. Anyone). This is, obviously, mission impossible. For myself, everytime I finish a book, I took a long, stressful couple of hours deliberating which I should read next. I have many that are crying out to be read. They look at me, sometimes with puppy dog eyes, other times with cruel judging stares, insisting on themselves. As a writer, I always try to read something depending on what I’m writing at that moment, for inspiration on style or plot or information, but I have recently seen a TedX Talk by a British writer (can’t remember who, sorry) and a creative writing teacher in a New York university (if I can’t remember the name of the writer, forget it if you think I’ll memorize the uni’s name), who said that you should only read what really inspires you, not books you might like or you feel you should read, as you will never enjoy them to their full potential. At the moment I love Latin American literature, so I should be reading more Galeano, Llosa and Bolaño (sorry, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is very overrated for me, personally). I’m not though, and more on that later. On the otherhand, one scifi writer who was a guest speaker at a writing class back in Brum told me that he never reads novels while he’s writing, saying they are too much of a distraction. I guess it’s a ‘what floats your float’ scenario.

To recap, here are my top ten favourite books:

1. Thomas the Tank Engine by Reverand Wilbert Vere Awdry

2. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck

3. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

4. The Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

5. The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle

6. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

7. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

8. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

9. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

10. 1984 by George Orwell

I have now compiled some trivia, which is mostly useless apart from the last one, about the above list of books.

1. Only three of the ten writers are still alive. No big surprise. Most best of lists anything arty is usually consist of dead people. Most our heroes are at the end of the day. We prefer to believe in legends than we do in the living. Maybe it’s a futile attempt to achieve the impossible such as interview John Lennon. We’re all defeated by the laws of nature and God eventually, and we all live to die. Needless to say, I wish these dead writers were still alive. Touch wood that this isn’t the kiss of death (no pun fully intended) for the living writers on this list.

2. Apart from Savage Detectives and On Writing, all the books were made into movies or TV series. Well, not strictly speaking, as Stephen King does mention his book Carrie quite a lot which was twice made into a moving picture. Plus, tons of others of his books have been made into movies, so strictly speaking only Savage Detectives (as far as I know) is the only book that hasn’t been made into a movie on this list. Which is pleasing. To pick a best of the movie adaptions would take too much time and deliberation which I’ve not got, but the worst has to be the Borstal Boy, sadly, which stars an actor named Danny Dyer who is often uninterestingly referred to as “the prick’s prick”, and the fact that he plays Brendan Behan is a travesty to art and probably has Behan spinning cart-wheels in his grave. Going in a slightly different direction, the below image I think pretty much sums up the book v movie debate, which I also uninterestingly put up on the wall at the Dowal School Library. l

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3. All the writers are white males. Yes. After just brutally laying into Danny Dyer, I can see why you might think that I haven’t a leg to stand on, nor am I seen in the best of lights. Not only have I just partaken in some cyber-bullying based on my own snobbish perceptions of life (especially to Danny Dyer fans and the man himself), I also come across as a closet sexist and racist (not homophobic though, as Brendan Behan was apparently bisexual, not that a person’s sexuality matters at all, but, you know, just saying). I was quite shocked when I looked back at my list and see no women nor people of other races (a part from Roberto Bolaño, who is a Latino). I’ll be honest, it doesn’t really reflect my reading preferences as I tend to choose books, like mentioned above, on what I’m scribing, so I’m more concerned on genre and what’s available cheaply on Amazon or in bookshops here. Ironically, I realised my faux pas of bigotry on the same day that Marlon James, a gay black Jamaican (I don’t know if it still is, but I’m pretty sure homosexuality is outlawed in Jamaica) won the Man Booker Prize for his book, “A Brief History of Seven Killings”. God has a funny way of sending you messages.

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Well, I could buy this to correct my self-confessed literature discrimination, but then I remembered that a few months ago I bought Maya Angelou’s memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. I knew I was going love it having heard such great things about her. She died about a year ago if I remember right. I’m already at the third chapter and she reminds me somewhat of Alice Walker with her work of art, “The Colour Purple”. Not because they are both black women, but because of the calm voice spreading wisdom even when the world feels as though it’s caved in and all they see is discrimination. The temptation to be angry is so great, but Maya has a way of behaving and writing that shows peace, forgiveness and passion. We’re not born racists. We learn it through life, sadly. The media or parents passing their hatred on to kids. Back to the book, she uses lovely expressions such as, “It throbbed so much it felt like Devil’s toothache”, she had a talent for such passionate phrases.

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After, I think I’ll read Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth”. Right now, I need sleep, but in the coming updates, there will be the honourable mentions list i.e. other books I like but didn’t quite make the favourite 10.

Goodnight the world. My eyes are closing. Closing. Shut.


10 favourite books – part 10 – 1984

Dear readers,

1984 by George Orwell

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A classic in it’s own right. Not much to say really. Not just a classic in literature but in human thought and a prediction of the future (this was written in the 1950s). Orwell warned us that the establishment would control us through various strategies, and you can see elements of it in today’s society, whether you live in a democracy, communism or dictatorship. It’s all a dictatorship in a way, although we like to believe we have a freedom to vote, but the only options are are individuals couldn’t give a damn about the people they control. We get a distorted version of reality in the government controlled (or with very uncomfortable close links) media that is dumbed down, controlling the masses with fear and confusing the people with facts and figures and opinions that doesn’t quite match with what we see with our very own eyes. We’re dictated what the government wants us to believe (a hatred of enemies, but who is the enemy?), repressing of the poor with stark welfare cuts and a dumbing down in education and the media that will soon their people drumming up slogans, such as this:

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It kind of reminds me of the Thought Police. In the UK, while there are infiltrators trying to pull apart opposition to the establishment and widespread castration in the mainstream media of people with alternative beliefs (Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Trident, for example, or government the revenge tactics on Snowden and Ausange for exposing horrific scandals of the powerful elite), I doubt as yet there is secret police taking people out (unless 007 has been given a new mission). However, in places throughout the world, these extermination do take place and have done for centuries, especially in Latin America, where journalists and human rights lawyers go missing on a regular basis. Maybe this is just where human greed and a fight for survival go hand in hand for right to remain in power. This is a power book, either way, and Orwell’s name belongs on the same shelf as Shakespeare and Dickens as great British authors.

It’s not a flowing novel and you might need to read it with a dictionary at arm’s length (due to the dumbing down of my generation, probably, or it might just be me). It is also quite numbing and not the happiest of novels, but it evokes an explosion of nilhistic and paranoid thoughts, especially in me, which drove Pamela up the wall (I read this in Minas de Oro back in 2012, like with the last book, which leaves one with not much to do but talk, read or eat). They say this book was heavily inspired by Brave New World by Huxley, although I’ve not read yet (it’s on my shelf) but it is original in thought, I believe, which has gone on to inspire an insipid Big Brother Channel 5 gameshow where idiots voluntarily opt to lock themselves in a house with cameras all over the place so that voyeurs can spy on everything you do (and the pervs hope they get to see these idiots in the nudd!) for the price of a few seconds of minute and undeserved fame. There is also Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games triology, which I’ve not read but Pamela’s dragged me to the movies.

In many schools, this is being read. I never had that chance. I hope that kids get the right message though, that power corrupts and can make humans do very destructable things to fellow humans. It is a very important book to learn from. If you you haven’t, do so. Because contary to the above slogan, ignorance is not power.


10 favourite books – part 9 – On Writing

Dear reader,

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I confess. I have never read a Stephen King novel. His themes don’t really appeal me, and I am a self-confessed snob when it comes to reading books that are mass produced and churned out like a conveyor belt. Saying that I may have had The Body read to me in class by Mr. Fenwick (I seem to remember watching the movie Stand by Me, which is based on the aforementioned book, as I know the teacher would not have just let us watch the film without reading it). I have seen various other movies based on King’s work, too, such as IT, Carrie and Misery (the latter I thought was great, and Kathy Bates’s “knobbling ankles” scene still makes me wince and feel my own ankles to make ensure they’re still there). Furthermore, while being a librarian at Dowal School, I would listen to the audiobook of Joyland to keep me awake when doing those f–king bulletin boards, cutting out letters and drawing whatever desperate things to attract children to the library (not a perk of the job). Yet, the book still didn’t grab me, despite saving me from committing suicide from suffocating boredom. Despite my snobbery though, I have always had a respect for the man, especially his twisted imagination, which grabs the attention of his fans as they all seem very loyal.

I then came across this.

I can’t remember where I saw it first; on Amazon or in Metromedia in Mall Multiplaza, Tegucigalpa, but I bought it twice (and a good job too, because I leant my hard copy to a young, dedicated writer named Javier Santos, who I’ve not seen since I left Dowal School. I don’t mind though; he’s a good lad). I do remember commenting on it on here around March/April 2014 when I was in Minas de Oro for Semana Santa (Holy Week, Easter, or better known as Cadbury’s Creme Egg season). As beautiful as it is, Minas de Oro hasn’t got masses to do apart from walk around, and walk around a little more, and chat with campesinos, and chat with campesinos a little more, which is nothing to moan about as both views of the surrounding rolling hills of Comayagua and relaxed tongues rolling out waves of caliche and regional gossip and ghost stories are beautiful, charming and interesting. However, once you’ve had your fill of guaro (spirits) and beer and open your eyes to the bleak work opportunities for locals, you can see why so many young people up and leave for the cities, leaving the town the town a little bare. Therefore, while the family regain energies by lazing away by watching countless movies, playing card games and, a Latino’s favourite past-time, spreading gossip, I hide away with my head stuck in a book. And this is a great book to have your head stuck into, especially for a writer, as this has some of the best writing advice I have ever read, and I have read and heard a lot, but nothing has been as motivating as the advice from, probably, the world’s most famous author.

First off, it is a memoir about how he got into writing, how he crafted his first book, how he has done it ever since, what inspires him, and realistic advice that all writers need but don’t always want to hear, about practice and making big money; it’s unlikely to happen. He talks about the hard times of being on drugs and having no money, in a directionless career in teaching, then working for newspapers, meeting his wife, and balancing a writing career and family. He talks of getting cheques for selling the rights of his book and how he’s had to manage criticism and self-doubt, especially after he was nearly paralyzed when a van hit him. Best career advice ever, but not to despair and give up. There is also advice on writing itself, such as grammar, word redundancy, and saying things simply, otherwise you run the risk of patronising your reader. Say, ‘”what is your name?” Pamela said’ instead of ‘asked’ – it’s obvious it’s a question. My favourite was his thoughts on adverbs, being “the road to writing hell”, or something like it. It is such valuable advice.

Apart from the “90 Day Book”, this is the best I’ve read on writing itself and it should be on every writer’s bookself, or better yet, at arm’s reach, and that is why I make it one of my favourites. Apart from Borstal Boy, this is my only non-fiction book in my top ten favourites, although I have read many great non-fiction books in my time. But let me underline this, it is important that all writers have this, made writers or those struggling to make it. And it’s a masterpiece; my favourite Stephen King book.


10 favourite books – part 8 – The End of the Affair

Dear readers,

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

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Many moons ago, while working at Books Etc. in Solihull as a Sunday job to support my studies (without doubt the best retail job I have ever had, by the way), I picked by a cheap edition of this book. I can’t remember if it was recommended, if I was sold by the front cover or I just liked the synopsis, but I picked it up very cheaply and then put it on my bookshelf and left it there for about seven years before picking it up and deciding to read it, for whatever reason, in 2010, just before I came to Honduras. Maybe it was the name of the book, because even though it does describe the book perfectly, it has a bit of “Mills & Boon” about the title. To those who’ve read it will tell you that it is everything but Mills & Boon, even though they contain similar plot elements and topics, such as love and obsession. This is just a lot, lot, lot more deeper (I’m expecting to be haunted by Graham Greene just for mentioning his name in the same sentence as Mills & Boon; quite literally a haunting from the literature Gods).

Talking of God, The End of the Affair holds much resonance for me because, if you don’t know much about the book or the writer, there is much ado about Catholicism and the sacred vows of marriage, which played a lot on my mind especially in the run up to my Catholic Baptism and getting married this year. All the books I have picked are intense in their own particular way. This is much gut-wrenching emotion, touching on morality and obsession and jealousy (“I measured love by the extent of my jealousy”) and secrecy and sacrifice, but I will try not to focus too much on that to not leave any spoilers. I admit, when I read it, I wasn’t Catholic but this book made me, I suppose, lean to it in some subconscious way. The book is not what Greene would have called one of his comedies, such as Our Man in Havana, which is a pleasant read too by the way (funnily enough, Greene also ended up in Latin America later in life, setting his books in Mexico and Argentina, as well as Cuba), but this very personal piece stirs up a rising melachony in one’s gut and empathy for the vexed and angry soul that belongs to Maurice Bendrix. Maurice Bendrix is Graham Green and Sarah Miles is Catherine Walston and, as you can probably gather from the title, it is about affair based largely on Graham Greene’s own romance with a woman with the above name, and to whom the book is dedicated.

It is set during and after the Second World War in London, with the blitz playing a big role in the proceedings. Maurice Bendrix meets Sarah Miles, the wife of an impotent, amiable, but ultimately boring civil servant named Henry. They quickly fall in love, but he soon realises the affair will end as quickly as it began when she refuses to divorce Henry, making the relationship suffer due to his overt and admitted jealousy. A bomb blasts Bendrix’s flat while he is with Sarah, nearly killing him. After this, Sarah breaks off the affair with no apparent explanation. I will say no more.

Apart from The Savage Detectives, all my favourite books have been made into movies or TV series. This isn’t too much of a surprise as the movie industry more often than not leans on literature for plots and ideas, just as many poor writers lean on the movie industry to dream about massive pay-checks and seeing their work become “a major motion picture.” The End of the Affair must have struck accord with many though, as it brought two movies to the surface. I don’t know if they’re any good, were a commercial success or how loyal they are to the book (apparently Julianne Moore was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance). There has also been a opera, strangely enough, and Colin Firth apparently narrated on the audiobook. Funnily enough, due to Colin Firth’s serious but glum demeanor, he fits the Maurice Bendrix character like a glove to a hand. Imagine him saying the following:

“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”

The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene

To hear dear old Colin reading, give this link a spank: Audio book clip of The End of the Affair

It is a book that makes you wary of love, the tragedy it can cause, as well as the bonds we make with God having survived life’s hardships, the salvation that faith can bring you. I’ve seen in so much in real life, from street kids to refugees to once athiest friends who suddenly change over night. Graham Greene converted to Catholicism after this book and the subject returned in many of his works, most notably Power & the Glory, which I aim to read soon. I can’t remember if I sobbed at the book, but it has given me an everlasting respect for it, and the writer, Graham Greene.

I leave with a quote from the book that will always remain with me, for life advice.

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”

The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene


10 favourite books – part 7 – Catch-22

Dear readers,

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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“Read it…and you’ll never be the same again”

Probably one of the truest selling quips of all time, because this book really did change me, but more so for the way I observe absurd human behaviour, rather than war itself. It is an anti-war book, don’t get me wrong but it looks at the hypocrisies of life and the abuse of hierarchy power that affects all us everday.

For many it changes their view of war, but not so much for me in terms of my thoughts on war, as I have always held a pacifist philosphy. I personally don’t see the point in inflicting military action on masses of people, either to start a war, defend a war or end a war. In history, it has cost billions to trillions of lives and bank notes in whichever currency, which also causes poverty, financial collapse, misery, inequality, rape, and all out anarchy, and brings out the worst in the human race. The world can do without warlords, from any Empire. If you pick up a gun in the first place, you’re asking for trouble (tell the US Rifle Association that!!). We humans have short term memories. Either that or we never learn our lessons (wasn’t WW1 the “War to End All Wars”, but then the same countries went off and kicked it up again just 20 years later?!). Look at human history. In some part of the world, there has always been a war. Governments would rather arm themselves to the teeth than feed their own people. For what? The threat of attack, or the threat of reprisals? Yet those who start wars rarely put themselves on the frontline. World peace is a nice idea, but can we humans really achieve this?

Well, this book takes note of the spoils of war such as these and makes it so satricial, surreal and absurd, but with a chilling reminder always flooding back that war is real. It lead scholar and World War II veteran Hugh Nibley to say it was the most accurate book he ever read about the military.

Joseph Heller was a man who had a grip of the English language and word-play that he made the term Catch-22 end up in the English Dictionary:

Catch-22 also catch-22 (kăch′twĕn-tē-to͞o′, kĕch′-). n.
1. A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions.
2. A contradictory or self-defeating course of action.
3. A tricky or disadvantageous condition; a catch.

I remember one other inspiring quote on the back of my copy of the book (a 50th anniversary version, I’ll have you know), which was taken from a review by someone I can’t for the life of me remember, but I was sold on it, which said something on the lines of “maybe the best book written not just in American English, but ever.” One other sellable quote, directly from the horse’s mouth (by that I mean Heller’s; no offense intended) is this:

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It is set in World War II and mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, as well as other airmen in the camp, who attempts to maintain his sanity while fulfilling the service requirements so he can return home. However, and this is where Catch-22 logic comes in, there is a set of paradoxical requirements where airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to, but cannot actually be excused because you “must by mad to fly”. And then the havoc unleashes.

Like I mentioned above, I don’t think I had laughed so long and hard at a book for a long time, with its constant choppy prose full of absurdities and bizarre characters that come bounding amost stupidly into scenarios that could only have been created by a madman. I like to throw the odd absurdity into my own work, but the constant flow of this was nothing I’d seen before, written in a soothing angry voice thrown on to the page by someone who’s lived through it, as Joseph Heller had. Howard Jacobson said the novel was “positioned teasingly … between literature and literature’s opposites – between Shakespeare and Rabelais and Dickens and Dostoevsky and Gogol and Céline and the Absurdists and of course Kafka on the one hand, and on the other vaudeville and slapstick and Bilko and Abbott and Costello and Tom and Jerry and the Goons (if Heller had ever heard of the Goons).”

You can read a sample of the book here: sample.

Almost criminally, it won no awards at the time. However, it has appeared on more “100 Greatest Novel” lists than I care to mention. Friends and foes and passers by have told me of their love for it (however, one sour grape who attended a creative writing class back in brum said it was “the most over-rated tosh” he had ever read, but then every book he recommended was the most boring tosh I have ever read, and if I may be so bitchly bold to say so, as was his writing. I know I should be more mature and it’s his opinion, rubbish though it is, but as I am that fond of the book, I feel the need to defend it’s legacy in every way possible to fully justify its extreme brilliance). Music bands have gone by the name of this book. I bought my brother a limited edition of it. I even bought a poster of the book cover, which can be seen at the top of this blog update, and had it framed for a while on the apartment wall. However, my wife isn’t too hot on the face the bottom of the poster so La Patrona (the boss) took it down. She promised I could put it back on the wall of our study (where she says she will never enter) in the our new house. The aforementioned quip “Read it…and you’ll never be the same again” is the source of inspiration that makes me chuckle when I think of its hilarity and pick up my pen (or laptop) and begin writing. It also reminds me of the happy days of when I read it, back in 2012 when I was in the UK working to return to Honduras in a miserable data-inputting job (the amount of satirical wonder you can gather from the passive aggressive clowns and power control freaks working in a drab office is just…just…too much, but Ricky Gervais beat me to it) and missing Pamela. Reading this book kept me sane, at lunch times or after work for a quick pint, where I would go with book in hand. Ironically, I would sit there and laugh, making me look not too sane in the eyes of other drinkers. However, the amount of strangers who would pass by give a thumbs up in appreciation was always innumerable.

Catch-22 really is a treasure for the world’s humorists and humanists. I only wish world leader’s would read this and take note on the lunacies of war. Because that is all it is, lunacy. Like this book.