Sunday, July 04, 2004

The age of Heller

I just finished reading "Picture This" by Joseph Heller. It's unlike any book I have ever read. It's not fiction, nor is it non-fiction. It isn't a novel, nor is it a history. It isn't quite a satire, nor is it a biography. It defies classification. Just the kind of book you would recommend to Hiranyakashyapu, in other words.

Flitting between ancient Greece, 17th Century Holland and the modern world, the book is set in Rembrandt's painting 'Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer', with Aristotle as the detached observer looking at the world around him through the ages, comparing it with the Greece of his birth, and leaving you to draw parellels.

Basically it is a work of political satire that today's world leaders would do well to read. Many parts of the book are extremely funny, while others contain more intellectual jokes (ie, I didn't get them). Heller doesn't quite follow the beaten track of 'Catch 22' and it's sequels, but the book doen't suffer for it.

As 'Picture This' predated Lorenna Bobbit, reviewers contented themselves with saying the book was 'as sharp (and thoroughly American) as Lizzie Borden's axe'. Others rate it as one of the funniest works by American authors. 'Vivid', 'Three Dimensional', 'Strange and Clever', 'Chimerical' are some of the words they used to praise it.

Now if these are lies, then they are very impressive lies ;-).

Overall, I absolutely recommend you read it.


Blogger Ramanand said...

>Just the kind of book you would recommend to >Hiranyakashyapu, in other word

Ha ha! Nice...
Wonder if that between-eras story structure inspired M.F.Husain?

12:54 AM  

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