Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Book reports: Catch-22, As She Climbed Across the Table, and To Say Nothing of the Dog

Catch22I am aware that what I am about to say marks me as a buffoon of the highest ass-showing order, but I’m saying it anyway: I don’t like Catch-22.

I have friends who list it as their most favorite novel. That is fine and good for them. I can’t handle the way it grinds back and forth over its message sentence by sentence.

It’s like being told tales your whole life of the greatest masseur in the world, Sven. At long last, you finally find yourself with time and the means to visit Sven, but when you get there all he’ll do is grind a piece of gravel into your scapula with his thumb.

Here’s an excerpt also used by the book’s Wikipedia entry:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

The whole book is like that. Come on, Sven. Can’t we take a break from the endless grinding of your obvious, gravelly point? No? Shit.

Worse yet, lately I have been recommended a couple of books that reminded me very much of Catch-22, which meant that I had to abandon them. I hate abandoning the reading of a book. It feels like a failure on my part.

As She Climbed Across the Table

AssheclimbedcvrA gentleman from the cigar shop recommended this book to me and I loved the premise immediately.

A guy falls in love with a black hole? Nice! There will be science and humor? Yes! But there is also a pair of characters in the book whose dialog is torn right from the pages of Catch-22.

Oh sweet Lord in Heaven here comes Sven with his gravel pouch. No, Sven! No, I don’t need a massage just now. I’m loose, I tell you. Hands off!

To Say Nothing of the Dog

200px-ToSayNothingOfTheDog(1stEd)I was recommended this one by a technology blogger for Yahoo. “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is a humorous scifi Hugo winner. A Hugo winner. That means if I don’t like it I think I know more than people who win awards.

Let’s see. How many awards have I won. Just counting now. Ah yes, here we go: buhhhhhh-zero.

Unfortunately I was again thrown off by what I considered to be needless recursion. I believe the author was trying to underscore the recursive nature of loops generated by time travel, but all I got from it was the feel of a relentless Scandinavian masseur with a peculiar penchant for pebbles.

Sven, I appreciate your efforts, but no thank you. I said no thank you, man! Yes. it’s fine. I know you mean well. I’ll just be going. Thank you.