Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Freebie: Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition by Joseph Heller

Congratulations to Laura Bolin, winner of last week's Friday Freebie, Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward.

This week's book giveaway is....Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been caught in the Hellerific blizzard of posts this week here at The Quivering Pen.  That's right, this week you have the chance to win a new paperback copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Catch-22.  So, this is the moment for those of you who have been intrigued by what you've been reading this week and thinking to yourself, "I really need to get my hands on Catch-22 to see what all the fuss is about."  I'm here to help!  And for those of you who have already read Heller's comic masterpiece about life in a World War II bomb squadron, the 50th Anniversary Edition is well worth owning--I've shelved mine next to the battered, creased, spine-broken copy I took with me into war in 2005.

In addition to the complete text of the 1961 novel, this edition includes plenty of extra material: an introduction by Christopher Buckley and 70 pages of criticism, background history, photos, and original ads touting Catch-22 ("a novel that is showing signs of living forever").  Contributors include Norman Mailer, Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess and Heller himself.

I've related several stories about Joseph Heller and the legacy of Catch-22 this week here at the blog, but on this Veterans Day perhaps none is more pertinent than this excerpt from Buckley's introduction which reminds us that Heller's best audience might be the one in the muddy/sandy foxhole:
      When Heller died in December 1999, James Webb, the highly decorated Marine platoon leader, novelist (Fields of Fire), journalist, moviemaker, and now United States senator for Virginia, wrote an appreciation of in The Wall Street Journal. Webb, a self-described Air Force brat, had first read and liked the novel as a teenager growing up on a Nebraska air base. He reread it in a foxhole in Vietnam in 1969, during a lull in fierce combat that took the lives of many of his men. One day, as he lay there feverish, insides crawling with hookworm from bad water, one of Webb's men began laughing "uncontrollably, waving a book in the air. He crawled underneath my poncho hooch and held the book in front of me, open at a favorite page.
      "'Read this!' he said, unable to stop laughing. 'Read it!'"
      Webb wrote, "In the next few days I devoured the book again. It mattered not to me that Joseph Heller was then protesting the war in which I was fighting, and it matters not a whit to me today. In his book, from that lonely place of blood and misery and disease, I found a soul mate who helped me face the next day and all the days and months that followed."

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Catch-22, the rules are extremely simple this week--no trivia questions, no going off to authors' websites to dig for the answer.  All you have to do is send me an email with the words YOSSARIAN LIVES! in the body of the email.

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Nov. 17--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Nov. 18.

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