Montag, Winston, and Yossarian Walk into a Bar…

Just when I think there’s no hope left in the world (or in this country, at least) a student of mine begged another to read Catch-22.


Okay, “begged” is a strong word. Still, I was a taken aback. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Catch-22 (among other Heller books). But it’s been my experience as of late that college students just don’t seem as passionate about novels. So when the student who strongly suggested to his classmate that he read Catch-22 began summarizing Yossarian’s woes I remained silent, allowing him to pitch Heller’s book to his peer. It was glorious!

“What about Fahrenheit 451?” Another student inquired. “Should I read that?”


“Yes!” A collective cry went up from the opposite side of the room.

Call it a sign of the times. Call it pure coincidence. I had to throw my own recommendation into the discussion.

“While you’re at it,” I said, “read Nineteen Eighty-Four.”


We talked about Winston. We talked about Julia. We talked about my namesake O’Brien who broke Winston and, in the end, caused him to love Big Brother.

In one classroom in this country a dozen or more students talked about these three books in terms of deserving another read. Imagine if college students and other young people all decided to reacquaint themselves with these tales. I like the prospect of that.

Author: obrienwriter

I write stuff, fiction mostly.

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