“No one who isn’t a truly great literary biographer would have any business at all going near the life of Heller. It is a mark of our current wonderful literary fortune that we have at work in 21st century America two literary biographers working different regions of the same late 20th century literary landscape with equivalent brilliance: Blake Bailey, author of biographies of Richard Yates and John Cheever, and Daugherty, who has now written definitive biographies of Donald Barthelme and Heller.”–Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News, 8/6/11.
“Mr. Daugherty has produced the definitive life of Heller, a stringent portrait of the man embedded in a panorama of his era.”–James Camp, The New York Observer, 8/2/11.
“[A] fine biography of Heller.”–Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review, 11/27/11.
“Daugherty, who just last year published a terrific biography of Donald Barthelme, delivers another compelling work upon the 50th anniversary of Heller’s most important book, ‘Catch-22.'”–Kansas City Star, TOP 100 BOOKS of 2011, 12/2/11.
“It is the rare biographer who can craft a cinematic narrative out of uncooperative real life . . . Tracy Daugherty, author of the Donald Barthelme biography ‘Hiding Man,’ proves again in ‘Just One Catch’ that he is that rare biographer, one who possesses journalistic integrity and appeals to readers of fiction and nonfiction alike. Daugherty thoughtfully probes Heller’s work and interior . . . But the author also swivels the camera past his subject at the world around him. What emerges is not simply a portrait of an artist, though it is a brilliant one, but also a literary history of post-World War II America and a deeper rumination on the state of literature and writing in an absurd world.”–Claire Fuqua Anderson, Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW, 8/16/11.
“Daugherty combines a novelist’s flair for character and narrative with astute critical analysis of Heller’s work. He’s especially strong on context, providing the political, literary, personal, and broader cultural milieu in which each of Heller’s books was produced. Daugherty’s . . . rigorous book is a Heller-worthy smorgasbord.”–Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post, 8/18/11.
“Tracy Daugherty’s ‘Just One Catch’ is a large literary biography, rich with anecdote. Daugherty is an accomplished fiction writer, and much of his book reads like a novel. There are some wonderful verbal touches . . . such writing eggs me on to read more Daugherty.”–Seth Lerer, The San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21/11.
“Each page is a joy for fans of big-picture breakthrough creativity. Daugherty highlights Heller’s genius for sensing trend shifts, such as from the old fogey 50s to the swinging, sexy 60s, from Ike to JFK.”–Tom Dodge, The Dallas Morning News, 8/7/11.
“Tracy Daugherty has written a remarkable biography of Joseph Heller, one that tells us not only about the man but about the world that made him . . . this is a moving portrait of the author. The greatest measure of the merit of a literary biography is whether or not it instills in the reader a desire to read more of the writer’s work, or to re-read the author’s work with a better understanding. That is the most intimate acquaintance we can hope to make, and Daugherty’s biography of Joseph Heller, a fine literary work itself, does just that.”–Burbank Library Blog, 9/20/11.
“The thrill of this biography is in the years and months leading up to Heller’s breakout book . . . Mr. Daugherty is an evocative writer and an astute literary critic.”–The Economist, 10/8/11.
“[An] excellent biography . . . A fine writer himself, Daugherty is at his best when evoking the worlds Heller inhabited through the course of his life: Coney Island in the 1930s, the Catskills in the 1940s, the Manhattan literary scene and Heller’s East Hampton retreat from it in the 1980s and 1990s.”–Jewish Book World, Fall 2011.
“[A} comprehensive biography . . . .While Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead) and James Jones (From Here to Eternity) published bestsellers on the war, Heller quietly wrote the novel that was to eclipse them both. Daugherty is at his best at depicting how he set out to write a very different book than his realist contemporaries, one whose slapstick style and fragmented structure would capture the lethal idiocies of war.”–Stephen Amidon, The London Sunday Times, 10/9/11.
“From Daugherty we learn the facts . . . Daugherty traces the development of Heller’s style, which was part literary, part Borscht Belt spiel, and aimed entirely at the mass market.”–Ian Sansom, The Guardian, 11/17/11.
“For those interested in a discussion of Heller’s life and legacy that traces his place in a generation that included Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, James Baldwin, Grace Paley, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, and Jack Kerouac, Tracy Daugherty’s biography of the man does the job well.”–Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, The Washington Times, 11/25/11.
“For Tracy Daugherty . . . the experience of combat is key not just to Heller’s most justifiably celebrated novel but to the comic mindset that would invent at least a few of the terms by which 20th-century America could begin to process and understand itself . . . Daugherty makes it impossible to deny the influence of not just the Marx Brothers but also the rhythms of Yiddish theater and Borscht Belt humor on Heller’s writing.”–Akiva Gottlieb, Tablet Magazine, 11/28/11.
“The principal achievement of Daugherty’s JUST ONE CATCH is documenting the extent of [Robert] Gottlieb’s handiwork [with CATCH-22]. The question the book raises, making it more valuable than other conventional literary biographies, is how many other classic books were the result of similar teamwork.”–Richard Kostelanetz, reason.com, December 2011.
“This first biography of Heller . . . is especially good on his finances and on the making of the film of Catch-22.”–Jeffrey Meyers, Literary Review, 10/1/11.
“‘Just One Catch’ . . . will be sought out by ‘Catch-22’ fans as it details the genesis of the book that had such a profound impact on Vietnam-era America. Daugherty documents how Heller, who flew 60 bombing missions during the Second World War, shunned the realism of contemporaries like Norman Mailer and James Jones to write a different ‘war novel’ by combining black humour and dark horror to capture the true nature of mass slaughter. It’s worth revisiting.”–Andrew Donaldson, The London Sunday Times, 10/11/11.
“Given the stature of Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’ . . . it’s surprising that a comprehensive biography of the author didn’t surface sooner. Fortunately Tracy Daugherty has filled this yawning gap. ‘Just One Catch’ has countless insightful, amusing anecdotes from Heller’s childhood, military service and postpublication notoriety. But the writing, publishing and ensuing aftermath of ‘Catch-22’ is the clear focal point . . . This biography is a welcome occasion for examining not only Heller’s achievements but the way they anticipate predicaments in which America currently finds itself.”–Elizabeth Nelson, TimeOut New York, 8/5/11.
“Mr. Daugherty’s book is more than an academic investigation of Heller’s work, and he brings the skills of an accomplished biographer to unearthing the sometimes painful episodes of his subject’s life . . . It’s a well-told story that will more than satisfy the countless admirers of Heller’s work, while introducing others to his fascinating life and career.”–Harvey Freedenberg, Bookreporter.com, 8/6/11.
“In riveting detail, Daugherty describes Heller’s tour of duty as a bombardier stationed in Corsica . . . A highlight of this biography is the journey of Heller’s satiric classic from conception to delivery.”–Ariel Gonzalez, The Miami Herald, 8/7/11.
“Daugherty has done his research. He has talked to everyone who knew Heller and immersed himself in the history of postwar American publishing . . . [He] is adept at probing Heller’s relationship with his ethnicity.”–Morley Walker, The Winnipeg Free Press, 8/6/11.
“In ‘Just One Catch,’ his reconstruction of the life of Joseph Heller, Tracy Daugherty has also illuminated the post-World War II culture of American fiction–from the emergence of Jewish sensibilities as a key narrative element to the influence of mass advertising and television to the corporatization of book publishing. It’s about time for such a comprehensive biography.”–Edward Morris,BookPage, 8/1/11.
“‘Just One Catch’ shows the path Heller took to become the man who could write the novel and where he went from there. Daugherty is good at explaining the evolution of Heller’s writing career.”–Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times, 8/21/11.
“In ‘Just One Catch,’ the first biography of the last of a certain type of lion, Tracy Daugherty shows us an artist whose triumphant iconoclasm set in motion his own extinction.”–Walter Kirn, Slate, 8/2/11.
“Daugherty has managed a prodigious feat of research . . . [he has] a real feeling for Heller’s work and the odd jumble of influences that led to it. Daugherty is often perceptive about Heller’s place in the larger culture.”–Blake Bailey, The New York Times Book Review, 8/28/11.
“Daugherty is undaunted . . . he feels that his biography might just gin up some excitement around an author whose most popular book is now 50 years old. ‘I think we’re at a time right now where art is being questioned, and literature’s power is being questioned, so the main thing I want is for younger readers to see literature as an ongoing, very powerful art form,’ Daugherty said. ‘People like Heller and [Donald] Barthelme took it very seriously, and did make changes in the way people thought. We haven’t lost that. If we lose it, it’s because we’re doing it to ourselves, it’s not because the form has lost its power.'”–Kevin Canfield, Salon, 8/14/11.
“Daugherty is an accomplished writer . . . [His] exploration of Heller’s handling of success is a leitmotif in ‘Just One Catch.'”–John Strawn, The Oregonian, 8/7/11.
“Heller’s zest for life animates this astute character study of the man behind the masterpiece ‘Catch-22,’ which drew on combat experiences (and moral quandaries) that had haunted the novelist since WW II. In spite of the title, there’s no catch. You’ll love the vibrant personality who set the irony bar high for the 60s.”–AARP, September/October 2011.
“Biographer Daugherty calls Heller’s debut novel ‘the bible of American black humor’ . . . [its] title became an indispensible part of our lexicon.”–Deirdre Donahue, USA Today, 8/1/11.
“The first important biography to arrive about Heller . . . Mr. Daugherty’s book ultimately rekindles great interest in Heller’s work.”–Janet Maslin, The New York Times, 7/28/11.
“Literary biographer extraordinaire Daugherty traces the slow brewing of Heller’s now-classic satirical war novel ‘Catch-22’ . . . Brilliantly detailed and constructively analytical, Daugherty’s groundbreaking portrait of the prophetic, contradictory, and essential Joseph Heller is dramatic and revelatory.”–Donna Seaman, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW, 6/1/11.
“Daugherty has a natural feel for the texture of Heller’s worlds, both physical and cultural . . . Essential reading about a writer whose major novels continue to command attention.”–Kirkus, 6/1/11.
“Daugherty serves up a breezy, entertaining, and well-researched biography worthy in tone and scope of his subject . . . an adroit portrait of the artist who dared to bring a humorous sensibility to the tragedy of modern warfare.”–Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW, 5/16/11.
“Daugherty paints a memorable portrait on a large canvas. The result will be as profitable for newcomers to Heller as for the well-versed.”–Library Journal, 6/15/11.