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Books: Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”

Aug. 21, 1962 - “Catch-22,” a satirical novel by Joseph Heller (pictured while serving in WWII) about the Air Force, will be turned into a play and a film by Columbia Pictures. The company paid $150,000 plus a percentage of the film profits for the rights to the book, which was published last fall. David Merrick is waiting for the author to complete a “dramatic adaptation” of the novel, with a view toward producing the play on Broadway late this season. Mr. Heller has devoted the summer to simplifying his first novel’s narrative structure and turning its plot situations into dialogue scenes. “I don’t know yet whether I’ll do the play or turn it over to someone else,” the novelist said today, “but I will probably do the film script. The book seems so complicated; I think Columbia feels they need me to put things in chronological order.” “Catch-22” is a satirical denunciation of war as seen through the eyes of an Assyrian bombardier near Rome during the American occupation of Italy.

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