Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22

Yossarian Slept Here When Joseph Heller Was Dad the Apthorp Was Home and Life Was a Catch THROUGHOUT ERICA HELLER S LIFE when people learned that Joseph Heller was her father they often remarked How terrific But was there a catch Like his most famous work her father was a study in cont

  • Title: Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22
  • Author: Erica Heller
  • ISBN: 9781439197684
  • Page: 379
  • Format: Hardcover
  • THROUGHOUT ERICA HELLER S LIFE, when people learned that Joseph Heller was her father, they often remarked, How terrific But was there a catch Like his most famous work, her father was a study in contradictions eccentric, brilliant, and voracious, but also mercurial, competitive, and stubborn, with a love of mischief that sometimes cut too close to the bone Being raiTHROUGHOUT ERICA HELLER S LIFE, when people learned that Joseph Heller was her father, they often remarked, How terrific But was there a catch Like his most famous work, her father was a study in contradictions eccentric, brilliant, and voracious, but also mercurial, competitive, and stubborn, with a love of mischief that sometimes cut too close to the bone Being raised by such a larger than life personality could be claustrophobic, even at the sprawling Upper West Side apartments of the Apthorp, which the Hellers called home in one way or another for forty five years Yossarian Slept Here is Erica Heller s wickedly funny but also poignant and incisive memoir about growing up in a family her iconic father her wry, beautiful mother, Shirley her younger brother, Ted her relentlessly inventive grandmother Dottie that could be by turns caring, infuriating, and exasperating, though anything but dull From the forbidden pleasures of ordering shrimp cocktail when it was beyond the family s budget to spending a summer, as her father s fame grew, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Erica details the Hellers charmed and charmingly turbulent trajectory She offers a rare glimpse of meetings with the Gourmet Club, where her father would dine weekly with Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, and Mario Puzo, among others and from which all wives and children were strictly verboten She introduces us to many extraordinary residents of the Apthorp, some famous George Balanchine, Sidney Poitier, and Lena Horne, to name a few and some not famous, but all quite memorable Yet she also manages to limn the complex bonds of loyalty and guilt, hurt and healing, that define every family Erica was among those present at her father s bedside as he struggled to recover from Guillain Barr syndrome and then cared for her mother when Shirley was diagnosed with terminal cancer after the thirty eight year marriage and intensely passionate partnership with Joe had ended Witty and perceptive, and displaying the descriptive gifts of a born storyteller, this authentic and colorful portrait of life in the Heller household unfolds alongside the saga of the family s moves into four distinctive apartments within the Apthorp, each representing a different phase of their lives together and apart It is a story about achieving a dream about fame and its aftermath about lasting love, squandered opportunities, and how to have the best meal in Chinatown.

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      Published :2018-05-26T12:13:10+00:00

    1 thought on “Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22”

    1. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in Joseph Heller, memoir, New York City, recent history, and much else.As the book’s title and subtitle suggest, this is a hybrid. A biopsy of the building, its history and residents, the real focus of Yossarian is Joseph Heller and his long-suffering wife Shirley, Erica’s mother. Erica plays a supporting role in the Hellers’ Bermuda Triangle; her younger brother Ted makes cameo apparences and remains an enigma. The bittersweet tal [...]

    2. The daughters of famous men (especially those designated geniuses) often seem to have a very difficult time in life. It was true of a recently-read memoir by Orson Welles' daughter and seems also to be the case with Erica Heller, daughter of Joseph, the famous author of Catch 22.Perhaps it's the ego required by any artist or the demands of fame but the families of such men seem to get short shrift in the attention they require growing up. To be fair, Erica Heller's memoir isn't a bitter one. Des [...]

    3. Witty and wonderfully written, this walk through the gates of the Apthorp and into the life of Joseph Heller and his family is a jewel of a book. I expected a portrait of the famous man, but was even more enthralled with her tale of growing up in a place and time that has now vanished, as though Eloise were given a life outside the Plaza, a career and a pen. She recaptures the details of a New York childhood with a family of characters right out of Central Casting, and unbelievably her sense of [...]

    4. The memoir genre could have no better spokeswoman than Erica Heller. "Yossarian Slept Here is a dazzling book; witty, moving, perceptive and incredibly generous. Critics have remarked that Erica Heller has inherited her father, Joseph Heller's gift for storytelling but frankly I think it's all her own. She's a kinder writer though honest and without a shred of sentimentality. The story of what happens when success come to a family and it's outrageous father has been handled in these pages with t [...]

    5. This is my cousin Erica Heller's s autobiography. It is funny, ( my cousin has always has a wicked sense of humor). It is sad and poignant, hilarious and lovely in turns. A beautifully written book!. (PS. The portrait she paints of our wild Grandmother is quite accurateeve it or not!)

    6. Yossarian Slept Here makes interesting companion reading to Tracy Daugherty's recent Heller biography, Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller. The first third of this memoir, covering events before Erica was born and her too-young-to-remember years is in an entertaining chatty style. Once she reached events she participated in, she can't maintain that light touch. I wonder how much of the reporting is colored by her own emotional "baggage" and an understandable desire to leave out some of [...]

    7. Imagine, as a visual image, balancing with one toe (the big one of course) on the head of a pin -- one arm reaching forward and the opposite leg extended backward in a perfect arabesque. That's the kind of balancing act Erica Heller has pulled off with Yossarian Slept Here, her insightful, totally honest memoir about her life as the daughter of renowned writer Joseph Heller and his wife Shirley. She makes sure you know that her father does love her, in spite of his insensitivity, frequently bord [...]

    8. I read Alexandra Styron's Reading My Father alongside Erica Heller's Yossarian Slept Here. They were happy accidents I wasn't planning to read—they popped up in my audiobook recommendations, and once I'd started one it seemed fitting to also read the other.These books are very similar. They offer accounts of the lives and works of two major white male American writers of the post-World War II period, written by their daughters. Alexandra Styron's book is the more vitriolic of the two, and righ [...]

    9. What is it like to grow up the daughter of one of the great American novelists? I suspect that the answer would be a variation of Tolstoy’s opening sentence of his epic story of Anna Karenina: each famous author’s family is weird in its own way. Erica Heller does a wonderful job in this eminently readable and entertaining memoir of telling us what it was like growing up as the daughter of Joseph Heller, the author of at least one of the great American novels, “Catch-22”. So what was “D [...]

    10. I loved this book. That is pretty much all I need to say here in four words. I loved this book. I frigging love this book, for added emphasis. Which doesn't even have anything to do with Joseph Heller, funnily enough, despite being the subject of said book and Erica Heller's father. The only work of his I've read was Catch 22, years back, and while I enjoyed the humour, the pathos, the credulity of his many, distinctive, varied characters I never felt a strong urge to chase down his other fictio [...]

    11. Erica Heller is neither particularly interesting nor intelligent. I read this book for the same reason everyone else did, which is to learn more about Joseph Heller, and that I did achieve.

    12. More often than you'd think, people engage in dialogues that expose what they say to having a meaning different than they intended. The keen observer will be able to figure it out. Writing family memoirs, for instance, turns out to have been one such, ah, catch-22 for Erica Heller.This is Heller's perspective on her family, which included author Joseph Heller, famous for the book Catch-22. You probably knew that already, if you decided to read this. With all due apologies to Erica Heller, it was [...]

    13. Erica Heller (b. 1952) is the daughter of Joseph Heller. Her autobiography is incomplete (years are missing, some of her illnesses and relationships get referred to but not always in detail), and her biography of Heller has gaps, though it is a monument to his psychological, as well as verbal, meanness. Her brother Ted gets the best line (it would be a shame to say it here), but is otherwise rarely in the book. Shirley Heller, their mother, seems to have been treated very poorly by Heller (and b [...]

    14. I've never seen a book published by a major press in greater need of an editor. It wasn't just the patchwork-quilt factor, jumping back and forth in time between chapters and sometimes between paragraphs. It was the sentence construction. Examples (all sic):"Meanwhile, the previous year" "Of course, at some point in the near future, private copiers came along" "It was also superb, depressing, and, many claim (including the author himself), that it was Dad's best work." "'My Shirley,' written by [...]

    15. Erica Heller, daughter of Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, throws open the doors on her family's history and skeletons in this funny, heartbreaking memoir. Given that there are two memoirs by Heller himself, a biography by Tracy Daugherty (Just One Catch) and many interviews Heller gave throughout his life, readers might wonder if Erica Heller will have anything new to say about her famous father.The answer is: absolutely. While the book touches on well-known details of Joseph Heller's life, such [...]

    16. Yossarian Slept Here is a moving memoir of how family dynamics and the overbearing narcissism of a father can wound and damage lives. It is a book that shows the destructive side of love. The father’s self-love is so overwhelming that it consumes and obliterates the love he has for his wife and daughter. The father needs to write and does so knowing that many of his sentences are cruel and will leave scars. The family time-line is marked by emotional duels fought between the father and daughte [...]

    17. Erica Heller has had a passably interesting life, and has published a book about that by virtue of her famous father. This is not a book about Joseph Heller's art. It's a book, mostly, about which New York restaurants Erica likes to go to. Catch-22 is mentioned in terms of the money which it brought her family - and the opportunities for holidays, ice-creams and new restaurants this brought about. Heller's later books are only discussed for their relevance to Erica's parents' then-deteriorating [...]

    18. I liked this book a lot. I think it is a worthy addition to the Heller family canon. That's a joke, because all the other books in the canon were written by Joseph. I have read four of Joseph's novels and become quite an aficionado of his, so when I saw that his daughter had written a book about her and her father I was intrigued.Erica turns out to be a very skilled writer in her own right, capturing many touching and telling and sad moments in the history of her family with considerable clarity [...]

    19. Why did Joseph Heller meet his mother-in-law before he met his wife?Why did 6 year old Joey Heller think a funeral was a happy occasion?Why did Joe Heller secretly follow his daughter to school?How did the Hellers celebrate the success of Catch-22? How did theHellers get a 7 thousand dollar Hamptons rental for half the price?How did Joseph Heller satisfy his enormous love of food? When didShirley Heller get the gift of Germany?Is this book worth reading, or what? Absolutely!There's much humanity [...]

    20. A well written and heartfelt memoir by the daughter of the author of Catch-22 describing life as it was with her father and family. In a twist which I find endearing she describes at one point a final college exam in which her Russian teacher of literature accuses her of plagiarizing a line from Tolstoy- (the preface to Anna Karenina,) "happy families are all alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.""Now how could I have come up with something like THAT?" she asks. The story of [...]

    21. Since Catch 22 is my all time favorite novel this book has to rate very high with me. Last week, May 2, 2012, Marge, Ellen and I were in New York. Ellen was having brain surgery to insert a brain stimulation device to lower her spasticity. As we walked up Broadway Marge insistently called to me to look at a building. When I finally turned to look I was immediately taken aback by the castle like appearance, absent only a moat, of the building. As we turned back to continue our walk I saw the name [...]

    22. Adult nonfiction; biographical essays. Joseph's daughter is a good writer, but the book is better if you read it as a collection of essays (as in, pick selections but don't bother to read straight through) rather than a narrative biography. I ended up skipping a bunch of "chapters" towards the end because the thing just went on and on, seemingly without any sort of direction. Perhaps it would be better if read a chapter or so at a time, as if Erica is sharing one anecdote at a time over the cour [...]

    23. Lesson learned: Don't read biographies of your heroes unless you are prepared to be very let down. If you think that Catch-22 was perhaps the best book ever written, do not read this.This book was very well written and I wish Erica Heller would write more. However, I can't say that I enjoyed reading about how the author of a book that changed the way I look at fiction mistreated his wife and children and friends -- actually, nearly everyone he came in contact with. I could have gone the rest of [...]

    24. Erica Heller has definitely inherited her father's droll sense of humor, and she uses it to good effect in this memoir of their family life. I've read several of Joseph Heller's novels before, but I went into this book fairly ignorant of anything about the man's personal biography. As it turns out, he was -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- a complicated and contradictory person, but his daughter presents a clear-eyed portrait of the man alongside her own personal reflections. An interesting read for a [...]

    25. I had read "Splinters", Erica Heller's first novel a number of years ago. Since then, her writing has developed, it seems she has mellowed and grown at peace with a complicated upbringing. As opposed to the rage that many of these types of biographies portray, Heller accepts her father and even appreciates who he was. Many wonderful family anecdotes about an Upper West Side Jewish family who come into some fortune and fame. But no matter how famous or "important" Joseph Heller becomes, Grandma s [...]

    26. Erica Heller has written a vital, interesting biography of her life with an icon; it, of course, typifies the impossibility of living with someone whose ego overshadows all, including relationships and family. But it is so much more -- it is the wit and wisdom of a Joseph Heller without the insane conviction that she is the only one who matters. Beautifully and hilariously written, but deep and moving at the same time. A must-read for anyone who found themselves weary of the macho "I'm an intell [...]

    27. Erica Heller's tale of life with her father, Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, is a fascinating and entertaining read. Fans of Catch-22 may be disappointed in the lack of extended discussion of that book, but there are so many interesting and insightful stories about the family Heller that you barely notice. Fans of Joseph Heller, New York City, or the written word will not be dissapointed at all. Written with humor in Erica Heller's wry, acerbic, yet loving voice, the book is at times laugh-out-lo [...]

    28. Erica Heller has an interesting and heartfelt story to tell about her famous, brilliant father, who might've overshadowed her a bit; if you're interested in Joseph Heller, enough to want to read his daughter's memoirs of him, this will fit the bill more than adequately. To spoil some things: yes she does discuss her thoughts on Something Happened (very enrapturing for me, as it's my favorite Heller novel), admits she has never read Catch-22, and there is some great namedropping.

    29. Reason alone:While she was dying of cancer, his ex-wife’s utmost curse was to forbid Erica from ever giving him a coveted pot roast recipe. The daughter kept her promise, though she prints the recipe at the end of her book; for this reason alone — pity Joseph Heller the absence of such pot roast during his final years — I would recommend “Yossarian Slept Here.”

    30. Ms. Heller has almost provided Too Much Information in this rather sad portrait of her father. Learning that Joe Heller was a jerk has not diminished my appreciation for his masterwork, Catch-22, but one doesn't have to like the man to enjoy the product. This must have been a very difficult book for her to write.

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