Jeffrey Meyers

The Failure of Success

Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home and Life Was a Catch-22

By

Simon & Schuster 288pp £15.45 order from our bookshop

Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller

By

Biteback 560pp £25 order from our bookshop

When asked in Green Hills of Africa about what harms a writer, Hemingway fatalistically replied: ‘Politics, women, drink, money, ambition. And the lack of politics, women, drink, money and ambition.’ He could have added the children of authors – from Tolstoy and Thomas Mann to himself – who’ve trashed their fathers in memoirs (only mistresses are more vindictive). Everything in the life of Joseph Heller (1923–1999) led up to and down from Catch-22 (1961), the artistic and emotional peak of his career. Reviews of his dutifully cranked-out later novels ranged from faint praise to categorical condemnations. Though he had nothing more to say, he continued to hurt himself and commit literary suicide.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,