Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One Hit Wonder Three Weeks Edition - Catch-22

Due to the three weeks there really shouldn’t be any music but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any One Hit Wonders. Over the next three weeks will look at One Hit Wonders in non-music related fields and the three I have in mind are all pretty good catches. So it's fitting that the first one be the biggest catch of them all – Catch-22.



Catch-22 would be one of the greatest novels written in the 20th century if not of all time and has had a profound influence on popular culture and was the fore-runner for similar anti-establishment themes such as M*A*S*H and Porky's.

Some novels might see some of their characters enter our vernacular such as “He has a Jekyll/Hyde personality” or “No shit, Sherlock”. Some novels might see their titles become a metaphor like “Those teachers are crazy. The school resembles something from Lord of the Flies” or "You can't go to that ladies only shiur, it's only for members of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”.

But when a novel’s title enters the English language as a term in its own right that is pretty amazing. The irony of course is that the book was originally called Catch-18 but the release of Mila-18 had caused the publisher to change it to Catch-22 and as they say: the rest is history.

Joseph Heller wrote other books after Catch-22 so how is he a one hit wonder? Well, when your first book is one of the greatest novels ever written with unprecedented levels of success and for the rest of your life you are living in the shadow of that – you qualify for the club.

Heller himself knew this when he said “When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch-22 I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?'"

Catch-22 is one of the greatest books you could ever read. I first read it when I was 16 and thoroughly enjoyed it although I didn't fully get all the subtle nuances at the time. I reread it two years ago and it was even better the second time around.

With the changes in perspective and criss-crossing chronology, the plot resembles somewhat of an Escher painting and nothing highlights the Kafkaesque absurdity of life more then war which is very apt given what is happening around us as we speak.

If you haven't read it yet - do yourself a favor.

9 Comments:

Blogger Pragmatician said...

I think I will do myself the favour, you've intrigued me.

Cool idea to apply the one hit wonder concept to soemthing else.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Vanilla Coke, or Crystal Pepsi ? Are those One Hit Wonders ? I wonder .....

3:13 PM  
Blogger Dot Co Dot Il said...

Prag - Thanks :)

Anonymous - Those were no hit wonders.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really ?!? Do YOU see Crystal Pepesi on the shelves today, cause I sure don't !!

4:05 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

im embarassed to say ive never read it but ive been told to SO many times.. okok soon, now youve made me curious too!

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most definately not a one-hit wonder! He followed through with "Something Happened and "God Knows" which is a personal favorite and happens to be narrated by none-other than King David himself - a must read!!!

5:30 PM  
Blogger Dot Co Dot Il said...

Anonym00kie - You won't be disappointed Anonym00kie.

Anonymous - They were good but no Catch-22

8:59 PM  
Anonymous queenofkatamon said...

I'd say it's a similar level read and influence as another similar type one hit wonder, J.D. Salinger and "The Catcher in the Rye".

9:19 PM  
Blogger Dot Co Dot Il said...

QOK - Very true. After a novel as massive as Catcher in the Rye, the only way was down for J.D.Salinger.

9:37 PM  

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