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Home Authors F-J (By Surname) Joseph Heller – Something Happened [REVIEW]

Joseph Heller – Something Happened [REVIEW]

Title: Something Happened

Author: Joseph Heller

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 560

Rating: 5/5

This book was a right stonker. That’s stonker with an “o”, and not “stinker” with an I. Basically, that means it was really, really good. As in, a serious contender for my favourite book of the year.

I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while because I read an excerpt from it back when I was working through my box set of Penguin Mini Modern Classics. I loved the excerpt that I read, so much so that I’d been keeping my eyes peeled for a copy of this and even bumped its priority ahead of Catch 22, which I already owned.

And it’s actually kind of hard to say why I enjoyed it so much, because the story line itself is as unremarkable as it gets. We basically follow a pretty unlikeable office worker called Slocum as he navigates the politics of his office while cheating on his wife and wishing that his children had never been born.

For some people, that would be a turn-off, and I can imagine a lot of people characterising this book as being problematic. But the thing is that Heller isn’t saying that this is how people should be – he’s saying that this is how they are.

Perhaps it’s because I have such a low opinion of people, or perhaps I’m just a terrible person. Whatever the case, I couldn’t get enough, and the whole book reminded me of my time working at marketing agencies. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ll recognise the characters and the scenarios here, and that’s what makes it hold up so well and still work as such a relevant read for our modern age.

And so goodness me, I was a big fan of this one. This one book is enough for me to already consider myself to be a Joseph Heller fan, and now I’m super stoked about reading Catch 22, even though I know a lot of people have said that it’s heavy going and a difficult one to get through.

If this one is anything to go by, it seems pretty clear to me that Joseph Heller does a great job of reflecting the human condition through his work, which is what I generally look for anyway. I also like stuff that has a more pessimistic view of humanity, mainly because that ties up with my own view.

I also found that this book was a rare example of a long old read that didn’t lose its way in the middle. Even though it was nearly 600 pages of smallish print, I loved it from start to finish and never felt as though it flagged. I think part of that is because there wasn’t a huge focus on the narrative, or at least it wasn’t the narrative that I loved. I just enjoyed looking at the world through Slocum’s eyes, and so even after five hundred pages of that, I still wanted more.

So would I recommend this one? Oh fricken hell yeah, especially if you’ve worked in an office. You’ll see a lot that you recognise, and if you’re anything like me then you’ll also take a perverted interest in the fact that Slocum and his family are all miserable. Ha!

Learn more about Something Happened.


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