Critics have wrongly cast Joseph Heller as a one-hit wonder. Catch-22 is his greatest novel, no question. But God Knows, told from the perspective of the Biblical King David, is also brilliant.
And now, thanks to the Paris Review, there’s “Hagar & Ishmael,” an excerpt from an unfinished novel discovered earlier this year. It’s a wise and scathing piece of fiction, one that bears traces of Heller’s satirical fingerprints but winds up being far more somber than the other work of his I’ve read.
My favorite lines:
I gave my icon away to a temple prostitute and we did the act of lust on the ground in the shade of the temple wall. Whoever needs a god will always find one. Whoever doesn’t won’t want to be bothered.