ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 9 and 10

9. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Most people are familiar with the title, which has become a part of the English lexicon to describe a situation that is unassailable due to conflicting rules. In this book, Yossarian, an Air Force bombardier during World War II, is sick of the war and wants to go home. The problem is that he has to be proven insane to go home- but Catch-22 states that those expressing concern for their own welfare about flying cannot be insane, and that you have to be insane to keep flying. Yossarian is trying to convince his superiors that he is crazy but that is tough to do when most of those around him are nuts without even trying. The first two-thirds reads at times like an Abbott and Costello routine, with a lot of rapid-fire (if dark) humor. The book takes a more serious turn in the final chapters. I did not expect it to end the way it did. The novel suffers a bit from "book bloat," as a colleague of mine once put it, and there are parts that are repetitive. But Catch-22 offers a wry and pointed look at bureaucracy, leadership, truth, the concept of power corrupting, and that those who seem the most insane are really the sanest.

10. The Winged Tales, by Vladislav Krapivin. This is actually two stories, possibly connected (the connection, if it is there, is a bit ambiguous). I read a translation of these stories (originally written in Russian). The English translation is a bit rough in spots but the stories themselves are enjoyable and highly imaginative. The first story, The Pilot for Special Missions, involves a young boy Alyoshka, who winds up going on a fantastic adventure to retrieve a lost model ship for a girl he admires. The tale combines adventure with fairy tale (several fairy tales are mentioned) as Alyoshka seeks to find the model- and find out more about himself and his own destiny. The ending surprised me, but I thought it appropriate. My overwhelming thought while reading this was that I could so easily see an animation artist (Hayao Miyasaki comes to mind) doing an animation based on this story. From the woman with the hat collection to the young pilot on special missions, this just begs for a movie. The second one is The Magic Carpet, where two friends discover that a carpet given to them by the one boy's aunt can actually fly. Along with two friends, who join them on occasion, the two go on flights around town, where they discover an old house, fix a clocktower and face other dangers. Again, this story doesn't end the way I think it would, but I liked that. I like a good surprise.

Currently reading: Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (almost done).
Tags: classic, fantasy, fiction, short stories

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