Fun Facts Friday: Joseph Heller

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Joseph Heller (1 May, 1923 – 12 December, 1999) was an American author and playwright. Mr. Heller is best known for his novel Catch-22.


Image from The Catch-22 effect

  1. Heller was born in Coney Island (Brooklyn, NY) to poor Jewish Russian immigrants.
  2. After high-school, Mr. Heller apprenticed a blacksmith.
  3. Heller served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II. He flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.
  4. After he graduated college (under the GI Bill), Mr. Heller spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Oxford.
  5. Heller taught composition at Penn State and fiction at Yale.
  6. One of Mr. Heller’s jobs, after teaching, was as a copywriter at a small ad agency. One of his co-workers was Mary Higgins Clark.
  7. The initial chapter of Catch-22 was published in 1955 in New World Writing, issue 7. It was titled Catch-18. The title was changed because Leon Uris’ novel, Mila 18, came out at the same time.
  8. Heller’s agent sold the unfinished manuscript of Catch-22 to Simon and Schuster. The publisher paid $750 and promised another $750 when the manuscript will be delivered 3 years later. Mr. Heller missed the deadline by 5 years or so.
  9. Two of Mr. Heller’s most known quotes are “peace on earth would mean the end of civilization as we know it” And “What does a sane man do in an insane society?
  10. Today the term Catch-22 means “a dilemma with no easy way out”.
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