Essay Example on On May 1 1923 Joseph Heller was born on Coney Island

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On May 1 1923 Joseph Heller was born on Coney Island to Isaac and Lena Heller two Jewish immigrants from Russia Daugherty Born into a family living in a small apartment Heller went on to write numerous books including his most notable novel Catch 22 His experiences shaped his own style of writing and influence those of future satirical writers Heller s dark and wise humor was shaped by his own life and was one of the defining factors in his form of satire Heller lived on the upper floor in a small building on West Thirty first Street with his parents his half brother Lee and his half sister Sylvia Daugherty However his life drastically changed as his father died from surgery to treat a stomach ulcer when Heller was just five years old Nichols After Isaac Heller s death the Heller family began to struggle with poverty as Lena did not speak English well and Lee only 14 years old became a surrogate father of the family Nichols Lee's self contradiction after a long day s work intrigued Joseph and become an early introduction to his own satirical nature Daugherty In 1930 Heller entered first grade and was a bundle of anxiety Daugherty that constantly checked his own physical features From a young age Heller s writing and imagination were praised by teachers and only continued to improve as he aged In 1942 Heller graduated as an honors student from Abraham Lincoln High School and take a job at an insurance firm Nichols However he soon left his job to enlist in the Army Air Forces in 1942 Daugherty Two years after enlisting Heller was sent to Corsica where he flew sixty bombing missions as a second lieutenant between May and October 1944 After flying sixty missions Heller left Corsica for Naples on January 3 1945 and was then shipped back to the States on January 28 Daugherty 



The experiences that Heller had during this period led him to write Catch 22 a satirical novel about Captain John Yossarian s time in the Army Air Forces After his time in the military Heller applied to and enrolled in the University of Southern California in 1945 Daugherty In the same year Heller married Shirley Held with whom he had two children Erica Jill and Theodore Michael with Nichols and published his first short stories in The Atlantic Monthly and Esquire After transferring to New York University in 1946 and learning from Maurice Baudin Heller became convinced that he could be a professional writer Daugherty After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in and being named to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1948 Heller continued to progress and earn his master s degree in American literature at Columbia University Nichols After working as a teacher and advertising manager Heller began working on Catch 22 then titled Catch 18 in 1953 Heller sent his twenty page handwritten manuscript to his first agent Elizabeth McKee and her team the agents were not impressed and found the writing incomprehensible Daugherty After changing the title to Catch 22 to avoid confusion with Mila 18 by Leon Uris and working with a new agent Robert Gottlieb Heller was finally able to publish his manuscript in 1961 Daugherty Catch 22 did not achieve immediate success after publication however it was enough to allow him to quit his job and pursue full time writing Nichols As stated by Jean Kennard Catch 22 was not simply a fictitious satirical novel about World War II but rather Heller s vision of the horrifying absurdity of service life in World War II Kennard Catch 22 reflected the existentialist view that Heller gained from his own time in the military Heller s use of experimental techniques allowed him to dramatize human conditions rather than solely describe them Kennard The black humor that characterizes Heller s specific style of writing was influenced by the iconoclastic humor of midcentury Jewish comics to previous existentialist and absurdist writers such as Franz Kafka and Albert Camus Bailey After writing Catch 22 Heller continued to write and teach however none of his later novels came close to the popularity of Catch 22 



The 1980s also proved to be a difficult time for Heller as he and his wife separated in 1981 and he was diagnosed with Guillain Barré syndrome on December 13th the same year Nichols Heller was left temporarily paralyzed but eventually made a substantial recovery Vogel While in treatment Heller consistently flirted with Valerie Humphries the nurse helping him recover and in 1984 he divorced his wife Shirley to marry Valerie Daugherty On December 12 1999 Joseph Heller died from a heart attack at his East Hampton home Although Heller is most commonly known for his addition of Catch 22 to American literature he has also left behind his contribution to the English language and his legacy for future generations of writers As stated by Charlie Reilly with Catch 22 itself he Heller added a phrase to the language Reilly Heller s work and specific writing style of dark humor and satire has influenced both past writers and will continue to influence future writers After a successful writing career Heller knew how substantial his work had become and stated When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch 22 I'm tempted to reply Who has Heller



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