I do n't sa I 've ever learned more about riter 's work from reading a biography as I have fromTracy Daugherty 's " Just One Catch, " the first lengthy account of Joseph Heller 's life ( other than his own guarded memoir) we have.
In fact, his major work, " Catch-22 " is generally considered as an absurdist, highly imaginative alternative to the realistic war novels of James Jones and Norman Mailer.
As Daugherty points out, Heller wanted to deal with military life in an altogether different way than Jones and Mailer did in " From Here to Eternity " and " The Naked and the Dead. " Throughout his career, he was always pushing the envelope, highly successfully in his irst two ovels, somewhat less so in the res of his work.
He recognizes Heller 's intent to start out afresh with each ovel and avoid doing a " Catch-23 " or " Something Else Happened, " but points out as well the perils of this approach: " If you are oing to hit .400, do n't be so reckless as to do it in your rookie season. " Daugherty 's book is strongest when he give us through each of Heller 's books, reviving interest in works that have largely been forgotten: " God Knows, " " Picture This, " " Closing Time, " " Portrait of the Artist as an Old an, " and " No Laughing Matter, " book he co-authored with his friend Speed Vogel about his long struggle with Gullain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune disease that left him incapcitated for several days.