In Gilmore Girls, aka the best show ever written, bright-eyed Rory Gilmore is continually seen reading a wide array of books. Whether in preparation for Harvard or for her time at Yale, she is always improving herself via literature.
Juxtapose this with Patrick Lenton, who found himself re-reading The Wheel of Time for the seventeenth time, grimly hoping the ingrained misogyny might somehow disappear if he just believed hard enough. What happened to his days of challenging himself? What about that one time he read Moby Dick and felt good for eight years? Patrick decided to take a leaf out of Rory’s books and read Rory’s books.
32.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Let’s just get this straight – I love Catch-22 and have read it many times before and was looking forward to reading it again. It had been a while, and I remember it being very fun. And it is fun – there’s a joy to the wordplay that’s just unparalleled in any other book I’ve read.
The entire concept of the catch-22s – present for the entirety of the book – are gloriously silly and mind-bending. This is also the most slapstick you’ll ever find in a book – not only is the actual action in the narrative keyed around physical humour, but the way it’s expressed through wordplay is also a perfect representation of this humour. Just wonderful.
But what I did sorta forget about is how the silliness and the paradoxes stop being fun and turn into a kind of never-ending fever dream, which I have a strong suspicion might be part of the point of the book – the classic ‘war is hell’ moral that we’re used to from every work of literature ever. The last half of the book is long and feels a bit like coming down, and you kind of just want Yossarian to shut the ever-loving fuck up. But it’s great!
Catch-22’s kind of pathos overlaid with comedy made me think of Kirk from Gilmore Girls. On the outside, he’s a humorous small-town eccentric who often exists as comic relief in a show populated mostly by comic reliefs (and Luke!).
Yet, Kirk is actually a fairly sad character, a person not really suited to the outside world, yet clearly full of dreams beyond Stars Hollow which he can never actually realise, so is forced to repeat the same patterns over and over again to a group of people who at best treat him with good-natured tolerance. He makes me sad. But also laugh! Catch-22.