CLOSING TIME

THE SEQUEL TO CATCH-22

The long-unawaited sequel to an American classic. In 1961 Heller published Catch-22, a viciously antiwar novel about a group of young American bombers in WW II. It was a tight, brutal assault on the military mindset, bureaucratic logic, and the ruthlessness of capitalism. In an act of absurdity worthy of Catch- 22, Heller has written a sequel to a novel that needed no sequel. Yossarian is once again in the hospital. This time, he's 68 and in Manhattan. He is still after the nurses, and Chaplain Tappman again pays him a surprise visit. Yossarian is now a consultant for Milo Minderbinder and his defense contracting company. The chaplain disappears after the government (and Milo) learn that his body is inexplicably producing heavy water. The nation is led by a trigger- happy Dan Quaylelike president, and there is a secret network of government tunnels under the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Yossarian stumbles down below, where he finds a massive doomsday cellar connected (literally) to hell. In hell he finds a pantheon of dead writers and a reconstructed turn-of-the-century Coney Island. However, this semi-interesting plot is not the main story. Instead, Heller spends most of the time kvetching about getting old and dying. Hardly any of the old, interesting characters make appearances (Orr gets a paragraph), and those who do, like Lew and Sammy, have nothing to do with the plot and no interaction with Yossarian. The only connection to the original is that in a few places Heller sets up similar situations and dialogue to show that capitalism and the military mindset are still the same. But by naming a character Dr. Strangelove, Heller is beating a very tired horse. A line aimed at Yossarian applies to Heller as well: ``You sound so bitter these days. You used to be funnier.'' Be content with the original and pretend the sequel never happened. (First printing of 200,000; first serial to Playboy; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-74604-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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