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Description - Something Happened by Joseph Heller

Bob Slocum was a promising executive. He had an attractive wife, three children, a nice house, and as many mistresses as he desired. His life was settled and ordered; he had conformed and society demanded he be happy - or at least pretend to be, but the pretence was becoming more and more difficult, as Slocum's discontent grew into an overwhelming sense of desolation, frustration and fear. And then something happened...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099889809
ISBN-10: 0099889803
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 36mm)
Pages: 576
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 16-Mar-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Something Happened by Joseph Heller

UK Kirkus Review » Something Happened was Heller's second novel, following the phenomenal success of Catch 22, and was first published in 1974. His wry, laconic commentary on the pitfalls of modern American life centres on the thoughts, and fears, of a middle-aged man in crisis. Poignant and compelling reading. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Coming up with a judgment on Something Happened (you'll wait a while for that something to happen - nothing does until the shattering clincher) should be the hottest game of Russian roulette in town this fall. There's probably more riding on this book than any other in terms of author anticipation and publisher expectation. It runs close to 600 pages and is full of repetition which can be one of those suicidal assets ("call the repetition perseveration" - that's Heller) in what amounts to a story without a story sans the pseudo of those now dated anti-novels. Heller's novel, Heller's tour de verbal force, Heller's stomp then, is a representation of the underachieved contemporary man boobytrapped all the way from his harassment at home to the office where he's making his way up over someone else's body. Perhaps he's closest to one of Roth's middle-aged, self-made victims, full of lapsed hopes and more guilts than any man should have to assume. Ecce homo - Bob Slocum, always on the verge of something ominously imminent - prostate, suicide, failure, death - while only having experienced a string of little satisfactions, "jobs, love affairs and fornications." Slocum figures negatively as husband of a wife who now drinks too much even if she has become more amatory in the process, father of a daughter who challenges, provokes and undermines him, also of a son who is diffident and withdrawn whom he loves best of all, and non-father of Derek whom they prefer not to think about at all. He's retarded and "looks like lockjaw" when he talks. Hardly a new type, Bob Slocum, on the cramped plateau of middle-age, "tense, poor, bleak, listless, depressed," and rightly feeling that "there is no place for me to go." He's infinitely vulnerable. And undecided. Should they put Derek away? Should he get a divorce? "l have acrimony. . .I have more pain than acrimony." Obviously there is none of the rogue absurdism or imaginative verve of Catch-22; only a circular sameness which one may justify (even if it is monotonous) with the Teacup observation of a much more serene man, Oliver Wendell Holmes: "What if one does say the same things - of course in a little different form each time - over and over. If he has anything to say worth saying, that is just what he ought to do." It is worth saying (or reiterating - however you want to look at it) to the degree that Slocum is symptomatic of this age - beleaguered all the way from his bad teeth to his rotten conscience. We know him only too well and it is the recognition factor which counts, along with the book's bravura, expertise and cumulative hook. . . . Whatever, wherever, Heller's Kvetch-570 will be read and read and read. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Joseph Heller

Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a bombardier in the Second World War and then attended New York University, Columbia and Oxford University, the last on a Fullbright scholarship. He taught for two years at Pennsylvania State University, before returning to New York, where he began a successful career in the advertising departments of Time, Look and McCall's magazines. It was during this time that he had the idea for Catch-22. Working on the novel in spare moments and evenings at home, it took him eight years to complete and was first published in 1961. His second novel, Something Happened was published in 1974, Good As Gold in 1979 and Closing Time in 1994. He is also the author of the play 'We Bombed in New Haven'. Joseph Heller died in 1999.

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