My own favorite line can’t be revealed. Because to reveal this line, from Joseph Heller’s CATCH-22, would ruin a painfully beautiful scene because the gorgeous shock of it was part of its genius. It was one of those moments where I had to pull myself out of the book and gasp and remind myself I was only in my living room, not indeed on a Mediterranean island in World War II. It was one of my precious few unforgettable reading moments. I think I was about fifteen years old.
This line is long, it takes up a paragraph, as it should, because the action it describes is galloping and frantic, yet sadly inevitable. No linguistic pyrotechnics here. The words themselves aren’t special. Yet, I was THERE. I was him. I was Yossarian.
As a reader, I was in awe. Still am.
I had picked up CATCH-22 by mistake. I was in my school library, looking for books that had been banned. I was thinking of CATCHER IN THE RYE, actually, as I realized later. No matter, because CATCH-22 has been banned for other reasons. (I later read CATCHER IN THE RYE and appreciated that, too.)
This tragically funny, painful and hilarious novel has many brilliant lines, and the first two are also wonderful.
“It was love at first sight.
The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.”
How can you not read on after that? It’s brilliant and madcap and involving like the whole rest of the book. Can you tell I’m getting carried away with my adjectives? I can’t help myself. Joseph Heller did this to me, and I wish I could have thanked him for it.
By the way, if any of you out there have read CATCH-22 and are dying to know which line I can’t reveal, drop me an e-mail at kristina (at) thedebutanteball (dot) com .
I wish you many such moments in your own reading life, and as a writer, I strive to create a moment like this for at least one reader. I’ll do my best.
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