The demented Army Air Force of Catch-22, the lethal business world of Something Happened, the dysfunctional family of Good as Gold-all these, we have assumed, had their roots in Joseph Heller's own past. Now, more than thirty-five years after the explosion of Catch-22 into the world's consciousness, Heller gives us his life.
Here is his Coney Island childhood, down the block from the world's most famous amusement park. It was the height of the Depression, it was a fatherless family, yet little Joey Heller had a terrific time--on the boardwalk, in the ocean (dangerously out of his depth), playing follow-the-leader in and out of local bars, even in school. Then a series of jobs, from delivering telegrams (on his first bike) to working in a navy yard-until Pearl Harbor, the air force, Italy. And after the war, college (undreamed-of before the G.I. Bill), teaching, Madison Avenue, marriage, and-always-writing. And finally the spectacular success of Catch-22, launching one of the great literary careers.
The strengths of Now and Then lie in the energy, humor, and mischief that have characterized all of Heller's work, along with the dark undertones that lie beneath them. He brings back a Coney Island that is not only a symbol of fun and fantasy around the world but a vision of what seems today to have been a golden age of carefree innocence. For the first time, he writes about the people and the events, both tragic and hilarious, he was eventually to translate, in Catch-22, into such memorable characters as Hungry Joe, Orr, Major--de Coverley, Natel's whore, and (of course) Yossarian, and such moving and frightening scenes as the death of Snowden. Now and Then is both an account of a remarkable life and a glimpse into the creative process of a major American writer.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Now and Then|
|Release Date: 10-06-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Now and Then|
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Now and Then
The Gold Ring
THE GOLD RING on the carousels was made of brass. Even as kids in Coney Island we didn't believe it was the real thing. By the time we'd grown old enough to ride the outside horses and lunge out sideways to grasp the metal rings that swung toward us for the final few rotations, the carousel was no longer enchanting and we had no deep desire for the free ride that the last, lucky gold one awarded. By then we had nickels enough to go around again if we wanted to, but we tended to spend them on attractions that were higher and faster, more spectacular--roller coasters--and, for fun, the electric bump-cars.
We were luckier with the staying power of our craving for things like pretzels, potato chips, jelly doughnuts, and chocolate bars. Mark Twain is said to have remarked that by the time we're tall enough to reach the jar of jam on the high shelf of the cupboard, we find that we've lost our taste for jam. No such rueful fate struck me or my friends or any in the small family of four of which I was the youngest, not with edibles like halvah or salted peanuts, ice cream, kosher corned beef and hot dogs, or even salami sandwiches. When we found ourselves with enough cash to obtain as much of these delicacies as we wanted, we still had a hearty appetite for them, and we tended to indulge ourselves, and still do, by eating as much as, sometimes more, much more, than we truly did, and do, want.
Of late, my best defense against corpulence has been to keep out of the house supplies of things to eat that reason cautions I shouldn't be stuffing into myself. Pistachio nuts, fo...