I have at last finished reading Catch 22 a few days ago. It has been on my bedside for as long as I can remember and indeed it was a relief that I can finally toss it on the shelf.
Not that I did not enjoy the book. In fact it is one of the funniest novels I've read. But it's just too laborious and even circuitous. And all the characters are crazy. They are constantly enmeshed in absurd situations as American soldiers in Italy during WW II.
After Catch 22 I rushed to read The Kite Runner, which is one of the first English novels written about Afghanistan by an Afghan. The book is an account of the political and social upheavals in the country seen from the eyes of a boy living in opulence before the Russian invasion. He has this servant of a boy who is his closest friend and who also acts as his kite runner.
Eventually they drifted apart as war broke out. The rich boy moves to America where he faces the humbling emigrant experience. But fate brought him back to Taliban-occupied Afghanistan to redeem himself from his sins of the past and which ultimately brings him back to his servant boy.
The Kite Runner is perhaps one of the most painful books I've read. My sister, who read the book long before I did (coz I was still finishing Catch 22), was simply bawling over the novel. Rightly so coz it was one tragic event to another. The book is even more harrowing than The House of Sand and Fog.
I heard a film, due next year, is being made as an adaptation of the book.
Just yesterday I finished re-reading Now and Then (Micheal Corlett), which is likewise one heart-wrenching novel. It's a coming of age story of a boy who fell (madly and wildly) in love with an upperclassman in an all-boy boarding school. The doomed affair became the defining moment of his life and thirty years after the affair ended he was still grappling with the aftermath of the rejection.
It is a book tackling gay love and relationship. I would still merit it however for its precision in depicting a traumatizing experience, which I believe transcends gender.
Next, I would be reading The Corrections (infamously suspending momentarily Oprah's Book Club). I've partially read the book but I never got to finish it. It can be too abstruse at times so I decided to put it down and read it some other time. I hope I'm in a better mood to start it again.