Joseph Heller
Born in

Brooklyn, New York, The United States

May 1, 1923


December 12, 1999



About Joseph Heller

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Joseph Heller was the son of poor Jewish parents from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; at the age of eleven, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland. He sent it to New York Daily News, which rejected it. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next year working as a blacksmith's apprentice, a messenger boy, and a filing clerk. In 1942, at age 19, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to Italy, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier. Heller later remembered the war as "fun in the beginning... You got the feeling that there was something glorious about it." On his return home he "felt like a hero... People think it quite remarkable that I was in combat in an airplane and I flew sixty missions even though I tell them that the missions were largely milk runs."

Quotes by Joseph Heller

“Лейтенанту Шейскопфу отчаянно хотелось завоевать первое место на параде, и, обдумывая, как это сделать, он просиживал за столом чуть не до рассвета, в то время как его жена, охваченная любовным трепетом, дожидалась его в постели, перелистывая заветные страницы Крафта-Эббинга. Муж в это время читал книги по строевой подготовке. Он закупал коробками шоколадных солдатиков и переставлял их на столе, пока они не начинали таять в руках, и тогда он принимался за пластмассовых ковбоев, выстраивая их по двенадцати в ряд. Этих ковбоев он выписал по почте на вымышленную фамилию и днем держал под замком, подальше от чужих глаз. Альбом с анатомическими рисунками Леонардо да Винчи стал его настольной книгой. Однажды вечером он почувствовал, что ему необходима живая модель, и приказал жене промаршировать по комнате. — Голой?! — с надеждой в голосе спросила она. Лейтенант Шейскопф в отчаянии схватился за голову. Он проклинал судьбу за то, что она связала его с этой женщиной, не способной подняться выше похоти и понять душу благородного мужчины, который геройски ведет поистине титаническую борьбу во имя недосягаемого идеала. — Почему ты меня никогда не постегаешь кнутом, милый? — обиженно надув губки, однажды ночью спросила жена. — Потому что у меня нет на это времени, — нетерпеливо огрызнулся он. — Нет времени, ясно? Неужели ты не знаешь, что у меня парад на носу? Read more...
Joseph Heller
Topics: humour, sex, war
“There were usually not nearly as many sick people inside the hospital as Yossarian saw outside the hospital, and there were generally fewer people inside the hospital who were seriously sick. There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital, and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily. People knew a a lot more about dying inside the hospital and made a much neater job of it. They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep Death out, but while she was there she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside of the hospital. They did not blow-up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane. “I’m cold,” Snowden had whimpered. “I’m cold.” “There, there,” Yossarian had tried to comfort him. “There, there.” They didn’t take it on the lam weirdly inside a cloud the way Clevinger had done. They didn’t explode into blood and clotted matter. They didn’t drown or get struck by lightning, mangled by machinery or crushed in landslides. They didn’t get shot to death in hold-ups, strangled to death in rapes, stabbed to death in saloons, blugeoned to death with axes by parents or children, or die summarily by some other act of God. Nobody choked to death. People bled to death like gentlemen in an operating room or expired without comment in an oxygen tent. There was none of that tricky now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t business so much in vogue outside the hospital, none of that now-I-am-and-now-I-ain’t. There were no famines or floods. Children didn’t suffocate in cradles or iceboxes or fall under trucks. No one was beaten to death. People didn’t stick their heads into ovens with the gas on, jump in front of subway trains or come plummeting like dead weights out of hotel windows with a whoosh!, accelerating at the rate of thirty-two feet per second to land with a hideous plop! on the sidewalk and die disgustingly there in public like an alpaca sack full of hairy strawberry ice cream, bleeding, pink toes awry. Read more...
Joseph Heller
“Four times during the first six days they were assembled and briefed and then sent back. Once, they took off and were flying in formation when the control tower summoned them down. The more it rained, the worse they suffered. The worse they suffered, the more they prayed that it would continue raining. All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars. All through the day, they looked at the bomb line on the big, wobbling easel map of Italy that blew over in the wind and was dragged in under the awning of the intelligence tent every time the rain began. The bomb line was a scarlet band of narrow satin ribbon that delineated the forward most position of the Allied ground forces in every sector of the Italian mainland. For hours they stared relentlessly at the scarlet ribbon on the map and hated it because it would not move up high enough to encompass the city. When night fell, they congregated in the darkness with flashlights, continuing their macabre vigil at the bomb line in brooding entreaty as though hoping to move the ribbon up by the collective weight of their sullen prayers. "I really can't believe it," Clevinger exclaimed to Yossarian in a voice rising and falling in protest and wonder. "It's a complete reversion to primitive superstition. They're confusing cause and effect. It makes as much sense as knocking on wood or crossing your fingers. They really believe that we wouldn't have to fly that mission tomorrow if someone would only tiptoe up to the map in the middle of the night and move the bomb line over Bologna. Can you imagine? You and I must be the only rational ones left." In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna. Read more...
Joseph Heller