Radio Wolinsky

From the Archive: Joseph Heller (1923-1999)

Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 and its sequel, Closing Time, in conversation with Richard Wolinsky and Richard A. Lupoff, recorded in San Francisco on October 17, 1994.

Since its original publication in 1961, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller has become a classic of anti-war literature, gaining fame during the Vietnam era for its dark and satirical look at American military life. Filmed to middling results by Mike Nichols in 1970, a new miniseries on Hulu has brought the novel back into the spotlight, where its focus on circular reasoning and insanity seems a propos to life during the current American regime. Catch-22 was Joseph Heller’s first novel. In the 1970s he wrote the novels Something Happened and Good as Gold, and in the 1980s God Knows and Picture This, and the non-fiction No Laughing Matter about his struggle with Guillan-Barre Syndrome

In 1994, Joseph Heller came out with a sequel to Catch-22, titled Closing Time, which deals with what happened to Yossarian and other characters after the end of World War II. This interview was recorded during that book tour and deals with both books, as well as other aspects of his career, along with comparisons to the works of Kurt Vonnegut.

Despite respectful reviews and a good reputation, Closing Time is mostly forgotten today, though it is easily available on-line in both paper and e-book. Joseph Heller published a memoir, Now and Then, in 1998, and another novel, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man, an autobiographical work about an author who is unable to shake the success of his very first novel, was published posthumously in 2000. The film of Catch-22 is available streaming thru Amazon Prime subscription; and the mini-series is available streaming on Hulu.

 

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