Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings
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A collection of short stories and other miscellaneous writings by Joseph Heller, one of America’s most influential and idiosyncratic writers.
Years before the publication of Catch-22—which was called “a monumental artifact of contemporary literature” by The New York Times, “an apocalyptic masterpiece” by the Chicago Sun-Times, and “one of the most bitterly funny works in the language” by The New Republic—Joseph Heller began sharpening his skills as a writer, searching for the voice that would best express his own peculiarly wry view of the world.
In Catch As Catch Can, editors Matthew J. Bruccoli and Park Bucker have for the first time collected the short stories Heller published prior to that first novel, along with all the other short pieces of fiction and nonfiction that were published during his lifetime. Also included are five previously unpublished short stories, most reflecting the influence on Heller of urban naturalist writers such as Irwin Shaw and Nelson Algren.
The result is an important and significant addition to our understanding and appreciation of Joseph Heller, showing his evolution as a writer and artist. For those unfamiliar with his work, it will serve as an excellent introduction; for everyone else, Catch As Catch Can is a chance to explore a new aspect of Heller's remarkable career.
the high cost of the movie, people assumed that the more money the movie cost, the richer I was becoming. My wife would go into a shop to have a fur coat shortened and the man would say, “Look at you! Wearing a coat two years old, and with a husband whose movie has just gone over budget again.” And then, when the rumors spread that the movie was costing twenty or thirty million dollars the feeling took hold—it’s totally irrational, I know—that I was getting it all. But I didn’t deny this, because
and stretched out on the bed. He lay on his back a long time, staring up at the ceiling, and finally, without moving, he fell asleep. The sound of footsteps mounting the stairs woke him a short time later. The footsteps stopped outside his door, and there was a light knock. “Come in,” he said. The door opened and Huck entered. Huck was a boy of about twenty who worked for Carl in the poolroom downstairs, and he had come up for the keys. He was fairly good-looking, with a firm, rugged face, and
learned little from his books, for his fancy would alter each fact to his taste. Italy became a land of festivals and mandolins in which the sole means of conveyance was the gondola. There were no coal mines in Spain; groves of citrus trees covered the countryside, and the women were as fertile as the land and had dark hair and dark eyes and were all lovely and vibrant with a wholesome, passionate, and incorrigibly pagan wantonness. The Captain’s voyages continued, and of all ships he came to
through the corner of his eye. “You a stranger in town?” Schwoll asked. “Yes,” Cooper said. “Just about.” “Know anybody here?” Cooper signalled to Costello for another round. He looked into the mirror behind the bar and shook his head slowly. “Not a soul.” “Where you from?” “Here.” “All alone?” “Just about.” “Don’t you know anybody?” “I know a lot of people.” “But no friends. Is that it?” “That’s it,” Cooper said. “No friends.” “Married?” “She’s upstairs. I live down the block.
You couldn’t live this way for long and you know it. You’re too intelligent to be satisfied. Now listen to me. Things are very bad and we need an experienced man like you. There’s a meeting this Monday. I’ll expect you.” “Leave me alone, Peter. Why can’t you leave me alone?” “It’s for your own good, Max. You’d better come back.” “I’m not coming back,” Max said. His thin, sharp face was determined. “Yes you are,” Peter said. “Max, I don’t want to have to threaten you.” “Then don’t.” “You’re