Book Reviews

Book review: Yossarian Slept Here.

Erica Heller, the daughter of the celebrated writer Joseph Heller, portrays her father with sympathy while revealing his foibles and complexities.

This is a frank and loving memory of J. Heller, the author of Catch 22, lecturer of creative writing, at various universities. The author describes and remembers her father in an animated, absorbing fashion, documenting lovingly his quirky habits, celebrity, and reveals how the inner circle or writers, actors, and artistic individuals behave within the family and react to their friends.

The acrimonious divorce of her parents is explained and the bitter way the process unfolded. The outcome affected both parties in an unusual and dramatic fashion, which she explains in detail. This part of the book alone makes it invaluable for all of us.

J. Heller loved to eat, and Erica Heller recounts how he eagerly anticipated meals, both at home and in restaurants, and how much he enjoyed well and lovingly prepared food. He particularly loved his wife’s pot roast, and she, knowing this, made her daughter promise never to reveal the recipe to her father as se lay in her deathbed.

The divorce was not only acrimonious, as most are, but both parties were never reconciled with the truth.

J. Heller, had an oblique way showing affection, and Erica was able to verbalize this strange characteristic in humorous but vivid fashion.

Her writing ability shines through the narrative, and the reader feels compelled to keep on reading page after page.

The Yossarian Slept here is a “page turner” in the truest sense of the word.

This is an invaluable work of wickedly funny personal, cultural work, based on facts that only a family member can observe and appreciate.

In the end, Erica Heller reveals the pot roast recipe for all the world to know and appreciate.

Highly recommended.

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