Joseph Heller

((1923-1999) / Brooklyn, New York)

Joseph Heller
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Joseph Heller (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirical novelist, short story writer, and playwright. The title of one of his works, Catch-22, entered the English lexicon to refer to absurd, no-win choices, particularly in situations in which the desired outcome of the choice is an impossibility, and regardless of choice, the same negative outcome is a certainty. Although he is remembered primarily for Catch-22, his other works center on the lives of various members of the middle class and remain exemplars of modern satire.

Joseph Heller was born in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the son of poor Jewish parents, Lena and Isaac Donald Heller, from Russia. Even... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.''
    Joseph Heller (b. 1923), U.S. novelist. Catch-22, ch. 3 (1961). Referring to Colonel Cargill.
  • ''He had decided to live for ever or die in the attempt.''
    Joseph Heller (b. 1923), U.S. author. Catch-22, ch. 3 (1961). Referring to Yossarian.
  • ''Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.''
    Joseph Heller (b. 1923), U.S. novelist. Milo Minderbinder, in Catch-22, ch. 24 (1955).
  • ''Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else.''
    Joseph Heller (b. 1923), U.S. novelist. Yossarian, in Catch-22, ch. 8 (1961). On his view of pennants given as prizes in parades.
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