The essayist and playwright Joseph Addison was born on this day back in 1672. King of Hawaii Kamehameha I was born in 1738. Writer and feminist Judith Sargent Murray was born in 1751. French Realist painter Jules Breton was born in 1827. American portrait painter Cecilia Beaux was born in 1855. Theo Van Gogh was born in 1857. The great painter Romaine Brooks was born in 1874. Jack Paar was born in 1918. Pacifica Radio founder Lewis Hill was born in 1919. And there are more, but I’m tired.
The day, however, belongs to one of my favorite novelists, Joseph Heller, who was born on this day back in 1923. Most people know him for Catch-22, but he was so much more. In fact, for those wanting to start reading him, I recommend avoiding Catch-22. I don’t say this because it is bad; it isn’t; it is fantastic. But there are so many characters and the plot moves along so fast that it is hard to figure out what’s going on. As I recall, I read the first 100 pages four times before I continued. I think his easiest novel is Something Happened. In addition to everything else, it is laugh-out-loud funny most of the way through. Of course, Heller was usually very funny, even when writing about King David. Anyway, if you haven’t read him, you are missing out.
Happy birthday Joseph Heller!