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Catch as Catch Can: The Complete Stories and Other Writings of Joseph Hellerby Joseph Heller
Synopses & Reviews
Long before there was a "Catch-22, " before there was even a "Catch-18" (the novel's original title), Joseph Heller had begun sharpening his skills as a writer, searching for the voice that would best express the peculiarly wry view that he held of the world.
Starting in 1945, with the publication in "Story" magazine of the short story "I Don't Love You Anymore," Heller began to reach out to an audience of readers damaged and disillusioned by their experiences during World War II. That story dealt with the return home of an American soldier who was having more than a little trouble adjusting.
The stories published following this debut continued to reflect people at odds with the world around them, usually featuring the "little guy," the "underdog," the "average Joe" who beats the odds by surviving in a generally hostile and unwelcoming world.
Written in what is termed the "New York Style," his were stories of urban naturalism, realistic and straightforward, emulating the work of such writers as Irwin Shaw, William Saroyan, John O'Hara, and — perhaps most especially — Nelson Algren. For Heller, writing these stories was a part of the learning process, his education on how to get across his own point of view, leading up to the publication of his masterpiece, "Catch-22."
Of the stories in this collection, thirteen were written before 1961, when "Catch-22" was published; of those, five have never before been published. After "Catch-22, " Heller forsook the short story form. Though five stories were published after 1961, one — "World Full of Great Cities" — was actually written in 1949, three of the other four are spin-offs of "Catch-22, " and one is a preview of "Closing Time."
Rounding out this collection of the complete published short writings of Joseph Heller are a short play and several nonfiction pieces, mostly related to "Catch-22."
"[A] vibrant posthumous gathering of long scattered and, in some cases, never-before-published works....Heller's mordant wit, piercing psychological insight, and keen geopolitical awareness are on glinting display in his later stories....All told, this is a welcome and illuminating addition to the oeuvre of a great American writer." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"[S]triking for its range of tone....The collection shows the gradual evolution of an author who began his career writing polished but predictable stories and ended up inventing a voice and idiom that came to define the postwar era. The volume will be much appreciated by Heller's fans and students." Publishers Weekly
"A collection of Helleriana that goes far toward showing that the author was a one-trick pony. Likely to do little to raise the late Heller's reputation....A couple of pieces of deleted Catch-22 material offer some moments of glee....Still, the world is grateful that Heller's trick, if indeed only one, was Catch-22." Kirkus Reviews
"Catch As Catch Can is a wonderful testament to the mystery of literary creativity, and to how much it often owes to a combination of dogged effort and serendipity....Nothing Heller wrote before it remotely approached Catch-22 for novelty or sheer power, and nothing he wrote afterward came close to matching the novel's bite and energy." Sean McCann, Book Magazine
"Joseph Heller was too great a writer for his publishers to pass up the opportunity to put out a posthumous collection of shorter works and too minor a writer for the volume to be very long or very remarkable....[T]his collection offers glimpses into his creative vision in smaller, less brilliant, more accessible pieces than his best and perhaps only memorable work, Catch-22." Judi Goldenberg, Richmond Times-Dispatch
In this superlative anthology from one of America's most influential authors, the early works of Joseph Heller are collected with several never-before-published stories.
Long before there was a Catch-22, before there was even a Catch-18 (the novel's original
About the Author
When Joseph Heller died in 1999, he left behind a remarkable collection of novels that will be read and discussed for generations to come. Now, with the publication of Catch As Catch Can, readers, critics, and scholars can finally assess the complete work of this important, remarkable writer.
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