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CLOSING TIME by Joseph Heller


The Sequel to Catch-22

by Joseph Heller

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-74604-9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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)