Commentary through comedy: Heller's "Catch-22" and Vonnegut's "Cat's cradle"

What we'll do

By popular request, here is some comedy by two 20th century American writers who redefined the novel. Both Heller and Vonnegut are laughing at the worst, commenting on war (Heller) and apocalypse (Vonnegut) with a smile. Here are two novels with a smile, bringing us two of the most charming, hopeful, and humorous works of the 20th century.

As usual, read one or read them both!
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Catch-22 is a satirical novel by American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. Often cited as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century, the novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of antihero Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th US Army Air Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel examines the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of Yossarian and his cohorts, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.

Cat's Cradle is a science fiction novel by American writer Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1963. His fourth novel explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it. Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he's the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker's Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh.