St. Martin's Press, 8/2011
Tracy Daugherty, the critically acclaimed author of Hiding Man
(a New Yorker and New York Times Notable book), illuminates his most vital subject yet in this first biography of Joseph Heller. Heller was a Coney Island kid, the son of Russian immigrants, who went on to great fame and fortune. His most memorable novel, Catch 22
, took its inspiration from a mission he flew over France in WWII (his plane was filled with so much shrapnel it was a wonder it stayed in the air). His life was filled with women and romantic indiscretions, but he was perhaps more famous for his friendships--he counted Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, Carl Reiner, Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Mario Puzo, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, and many others among his confidantes. In 1981 Heller was diagnosed with a debilitating syndrome that could have cost him his life. Miraculously, he recovered. When he passed away in 1999 from natural causes, he left behind a body of work that continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year.