Saturday, 1 May 2010

On this day...

Amercian novelist Joseph Heller was born in 1923, the son of poor Jewish parents from Russia. Writing was always an early passion, and as a teenager, Heller sent to the New York Daily Times a story about the Russian invasion of Finland, which was promptly rejected. Even after graduating from school, Heller was unable to fulfil his writing potential, and instead spent the next few years in menial work, becoming both a messenger boy and filing clerk. In 1942, as a mere 19 old year, Heller, like so many his age, joined the U.S. army. Describing the war as 'fun in the beginning', he flew 60 combat missions and on returning home felt 'like a hero'.

It was then that he was able to resume his studies, gaining a masters in English and started to write what would become his masterpiece - 'Catch-22'. Despite, the intial chapter being written within a week, Heller was to take eight years to publish the work, which now finds itself embedded into the English language. Although later novels, including 'Something Happened' failed to reach the same level of commercial success, Heller continued to produce masterful works, only beginning writing when he had envisioned both a first and last line. Heller died of a heart attack in 1999, at the age of 76.

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