A critical survey of the complete body of work by the author of Catch-22
To add a significant phrase to our language is no easy feat, but that is precisely what Joseph Heller (1923–1999) did with "catch-22," the principle of absurdist logic and bureaucratic foul-up that energized his debut novel, Catch-22, in 1961. In this revised edition of Understanding Joseph Heller, Sanford Pinsker explores the idiosyncratic vision that permeates Heller's complete body of work, as he maps the dark terrain Heller carved out, novel by novel, with considerable verbal dazzle and the uncompromising outrage of the classical satirist.
This updated edition includes new chapters on Closing Time, the sequel to Catch-22; Now and Then, Heller's memoir of growing up in Brooklyn; Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man, his posthumously published novel; and Catch as Catch Can, a collection of assorted short stories and sketches.
Sanford Pinsker is an emeritus professor of humanities at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he taught courses in American literature and creative writing for nearly forty years. He has published books on the Jewish American novel as well as studies of Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth, and Joseph Heller.
Review of the first edition:
"Nicely balancing description with discovery, Pinsker's lively and wide-ranging study not only examines the themes and rhetorical strategies through which Heller projects his satiric vision but also locates them within the cultural context that both shapes our literature and determines, in part, what it is capable of."—Modern Fiction Studies