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Something Happened [Audio Cassette]

Joseph Heller
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 1981
This is Joseph Heller's first book after CATCH-22, and in it he explores the wartime generation's new husband, progenitor, provider and survivalist. What happened to all the youthful dreams and those who peopled them? Gone to ruin. Because Heller is an architect of his age, his comments on the rubble contain more irony than perhaps he realizes.

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"It is splendidly put together and hypnotic to read. It is as clear and hard-edged as a cut diamond. Mr. Heller's concentration and patience are so evident on every page that one can only say that "Something Happened" is at all points precisely what he hoped it would be" -- New York Times Kurt Vonnegut "I used to think Catch-22 was my best novel until I read Kurt Vonnegut's review of Something Happened. Now I think Something Happened is." Joseph Heller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time (the sequel to Catch-22), and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in December 1999. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heller's magnum opus Sept. 5 2003
This is Heller's masterpiece, not the vastly overrated Catch 22. That book was an entertainment; this one is a work of art. It might be described as a portrait of Hell, set in the affluent suburbs of Connecticut. I read this work twenty years ago, and it's still vivid in my mind (how many books can one say that about?). In fact, I checked in to the Amazon site because I plan to read it again and was curious to see what others had said about it. Heller's powers of description are awesome, as is his ability to 'explore' his protagonist's psyche. I felt I was right there with Bob Slocumb, inside his mind. A disagreeable individual he may be, but he is also infinitely human, and as another reviewer stated, a modern American Everyman, with whom (alas) I identified.
I read through some of the previous Amazon reviews and am baffled by those who panned this book and said it was tedious. On the contrary, I found it a real page-turner. The writing is fresh and moves right along. Perhaps those reviewers who hated it were expecting another Catch 22, or in some way approached it with pre-set ideas as to what a novel should be and were therefore disappointed. The 'repetitiveness' that some complained about was neither sloppy writing on Heller's part, nor careless work by his editor. It serves the purpose of getting inside the character's mind and portraying his life, and it held my attention throughout. Is every thought or feeling that each of us have day in and day out always startling and fresh, and do we never repeat ourselves? I think not. The portrait Heller creates is masterful.
Next to some of the post-modern, magic realism dreck that passes for fiction these days, Something Happened is incomparable. By all means, pick this book up; you won't be disappointed, unless you're expecting it to be something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars most underrated book I've ever read Feb. 14 2002
Most of us know about Heller cause of Catch-22, but this novel should be ranked up there with his most famous classic. 'Something Happened' takes a look at the ordinary day life of a succesful, middle aged, business man who is obsiously growing more and more unhappy. It's a fairly common theme in a lot of modern art, but Heller adds his own touch by giving characters strange traits, which sometimes seem trivial -like someone's last name or their physical stature- and always turn out to add a unique twist to the plot. Along the way, Heller never fails us psychological insights into Bob Slocumb, the main character, and his relationships with his co-workers and family. I would bet anything that this book inspired some recently popular movies, such as Fight Club and American Beauty -as all have strong themes of irony, comedy, and tregedy. What still sets this book apart, is Heller's uncanny capacity to twist logic and words to make ordinary life seem so bizarre and surreal. It is definitely not self-help friendly, and it will make you look closer at yourself and others around you than might have been used to. As Heller seems to imply, such introspection will most likely show you something you's rather not consider, and its up to you to address it and not ignore it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Business Reading June 29 2004
Some random reviewer on Barnes and Noble gave us this: "the novel reads like a kick in the groin."
In many ways, this novel is a more scholarly, literary, and philosophical precursor to Fight Club in that it chronicles a man who is, by any common standard, a very successful person in Corporate America. He has an excellent and well-paying job. He has a wife. He has children. He has a lovely house.
Yet he finds his life shallow and empty of purpose. He finds himself indulging in self-destructive behaviors. He finds himself completely unable to communicate with his family. He finds himself completely unable to connect in any genuine sense with any other person in his work or social life.
He examines every facet of his life from his job, to his marriage, to his children, and he finds that a strange sort of cowardice pervades his life. He realizes that "something happened" in his life to change everything he knew and every way he behaved and made him the ineffectual, pompous, and empty coward that he and all the people around him have become.
For those people in the business community who have pondered their own existence and the true results and purpose they will have on the world, this novel will read like a kick in the groin. Something Happened is a completely unsettling and unflinching look at the kind of life that is derivative of one spent in the service of a business. It will teach you why you fear everyone you work with and why they fear you. It will teach you why you so often feel so alone. And it will teach you why you learn to break free and why you may be so unable to do it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Too Clever (By Half) Feb. 12 2003
By coolio
Easily one of the most frustrating books I've read, Something Happened is a lengthy monologue about life given by an assumedly prototypical middle-class, mid-range executive in late-60s/early 70s America. That the protagonist is one of the least sympathetic I've encountered can perhaps be attributed, in part, to the change in social mores; no one reading Something Happened today would be anything but appalled by Slocum's apparently joyless sex with pretty much any woman he encounters who's willing and young. Obviously, the distastefulness of Slocum's day-to-day existence, and his self-hatred, are part of the point, but the book is far, far too long and is crammed to the gills with long parenthetical meanderings that suggest that Heller's editor was afraid to touch the maestro's work for fear of inspiring another 13-year break between books. As to the ideas in Something Happened, none appear original from today's standpoint, and were arguably dated even when the book was first published; for example, Slocum's description of his workplace is straight out of William Whyte's Organization Man (which, unlike Something Happened, truly is worth reading). And instead of pushing the envelope on what a novel should be about, or how a protagonist's thoughts ought to be conveyed, Heller's choice of an endlessly digressive, self-centered protagonist is only annoying. After almost 200 pages I just wished Slocum would shut up already, and with no little satisfaction put this book aside. In the end, it is the endlessness, and pointlessness, of Slocum's monologue that finally dooms Something Happened; it could have profited from being chopped in half and then might have been worthwhile. But under no circumstances is this book worth the many hours of commitment it demands.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars No illusions left
"Really, I ask myself every now and then, depending on how well or poorly things are going with Green at the office or at home with my wife, or with my retarded son, or with my... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Vlad Stankaninets
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Happened with 5 pages left!
This book was one of the most difficult I've read in recent memory. It can truly be considered literature rather than pop fiction. Read more
Published on May 13 2003 by Locopelli
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Funny Happens
Something Happened was not a terrible just didn't fit my expectations of it. When I pick up a Heller book to read, I look forward to enjoying the wit displayed in it. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2003 by "spoonybard"
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsung
This book is simply one of the most amazing, unsung works of modern american fiction.
Published on Aug. 23 2002 by Gordon Mcdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars An existentialist Masterpiece
The title of this book by Joseph Heller is "Something Happened." Another title could have been "Life: The Book. Read more
Published on July 19 2002 by Bill R. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars In life ... sometimes you ask: "Why?"
Many of us, I'm sure, at one point or another in time have lived a life very similar to that of Heller's main character, Bob Slocum. Read more
Published on May 21 2002 by MungoB
4.0 out of 5 stars The Office In Which I Work
The second chapter of this book, The Office In Which I Work, begins as follows:
"In the office in which I work, there are five people of whom I am afraid. Read more
Published on April 9 2002 by J. Reynolds
1.0 out of 5 stars Am I missing something?
As others before me noted, a more accurate title for this 500 page novel would be "Nothing Happened. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2001 by "mongoose3281"
5.0 out of 5 stars Better with each reading
I initially read this book as a teenager when it was first came out in paperback in the early-mid 70s. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2001
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