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Chapters and episodes…

July 24, 2008

Chapters.  Everybody in Catch-22 gets, at least, their own chapter, or two.  It’s one of the reason’s the book was mostly panned early on—“it’s not a novel,” and “it gasps for want of craft and sensibility” (how about sense?), “it’s a collection of anecdotes, a parade of scenes.”  Heller is a “brilliant painter who decides to throw all the ideas in his sketchbooks onto one canvas.”  Those critics were writing nearly 50 years ago, just before they were run over by a flood of writing and writers…Pynchon, Barth, Vonnegut, Barthelme, Nabokov et al…who threw the book at the rules.

In my own writing, I’ve dabbled with different ways of naming chapters, or episodes as I like to call them.  I admit I’m influenced by Pynchon here.  Or Hunter Thompson.  Maybe I’ll name a few of my Rats episodes for the starring character.  Or something.

I’m a sucker for fabulous settings, thickly brewed descriptions. Here’s a great one:

“With a grinding howl of engines, he flipped the plane over on one wing and wrung it around remorselessly in a screaming turn away from the twin spires of flak Yossarian had spied stabbing toward them.  Then Yossarian had McWatt climb and keep climbing higher and higher until they tore free finally into a calm distance with long white veils of tenuous fluff….”

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From → Catch 22

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