This is the first discussion thread for the SDMB reading group. The logistics thread is here: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=543091
This discussion covers the beginning of the book to the end of chapter 22. I have to confess that I’m only about halfway there (I think I’ve been more in the mood for non-fiction lately, and I’ve been enjoying spending time with my family), so I may not participate much. I’ll do my best to get the discussion going still.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the book is full of paradoxes, circular reasoning and ideas being turned on their heads. The obvious example is the title.
I always like the parts that focus on Yossarian because he has an interesting perspective on things. It’s like he sees situations for what they really are. I believe the text on the back of the book calls him “dangerously sane”, and often what he says not only makes a lot of sense but makes things that seemed normal before seem absurd now, especially his attitude towards combat. He is hung up by the fact that thousands of people he doesn’t even know want him dead, and that’s a pretty big deal. I also like the way his number one goal is to survive and how he goes about doing that.
Overall I’m not enjoying the book a whole lot. I don’t know if that can really be blamed on the book itself though. I’ve read a whole bunch of fiction novels lately and maybe I’m just more in the mood for non-fiction. Maybe it’s because I’m generally not a fan of war stories.
I really liked the parts that centered around Yossarian, but as far as I’ve gotten those are disappointingly rare. Instead the author keeps introducing new characters that I don’t find all that interesting. I don’t care about Hungry Joe or these other people. Maybe it’s just that I have trouble remembering who is who. There are so many names. The biggest exception so far is Major Major, whose chapter I enjoyed. Maybe because he’s got such a distinct name.
So, what are your thoughts? I’m especially hoping for someone to disagree with my reasons for not liking the book a whole lot. I hope it’s something that I’m just not getting, and someone can explain it to me so I can enjoy it more.