Something Happened by Heller

I like to shop at Goodwill.  I could say that I feel like I’m helping out the community or the less fortunate, but the fact of the matter is I’m a cheap bastard and I hate spending money on unnecessary things.  Most clothes are unnecessary, so if I ever need any, I go to Goodwill.

I buy all my shirts and underwear from here.

I buy all my shirts and underwear from here.

The Wife likes to come along simply because she likes buying things; I don’t think she personally likes having things or collecting things, she just likes the process of buying.  She also likes reading children’s books; I don’t think she’s dumb or anything, she just likes reading low-fantasy (as opposed to elves and trolls), which is what most children’s literature is.  They have a lot of kids’ books at Goodwill.

As she was perusing the books section of our gigantic Goodwill (the one in my town is the distribution center for mid – and west-Michigan), I noticed an original Joseph Heller book.  I’ve never been a fan of Catch-22 or anything, but I always think first editions of famous authors are sort of cool (even if the author is selling millions of the first printing – it must be the comic-collectible-nerd in me) so I picked it up.  As The Wife was reading some Pendragon book, I began reading Something Happened.

I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed. 

Mine came without the jacket.

Mine came without the jacket. It also had a sticker that said $0.99

The book is divided into parts (which I guess could be considered chapters, but they don’t seem to flow like chapters; they’re more like parts).  The first major part is about the main character’s Life at Work.  He talks about how he has a lot of time on his hands in Corporate America and how he is constantly playing office politics to get ahead.  Apparently he’s very good because dozens of people in his office come to him fro advice on a daily basis.  He also talks about all the office affairs that he has, which leads us into his next part: his Life at Home.

He is not a very good husband or father.  Much of the book is about how he can never seem to get his family life in order.  There’s a constant contrast between his home life and his work life: one is in shambles, the other is stellar.  Much of the book talks about his belief that as time goes on, he gets better at his job, while, as time goes on, he gets worse at being a family man. 

The title, I believe, refers to his belief that something happened along the way to cause all this.  There’s a reason his wife is no longer pretty and is now coarse and loves sex; there’s a reason his daughter swears and constantly wishes him dead; there’s a reason his son is always sad.  But, I think one of the themes of the book is, there’s no particular reason for anything.  His wife is coarse because he is coarse and people pick up habits from others; his daughter swears because he swears and people pick up habits from others; his son is unhappy because he is unhappy and people pick up habits from others.

I think the thing that shocks me the most about Something Happened is the way it’s written.  I honestly believe this narrator is a real person and these are his real thoughts.  It’s a long read, but I think it goes quickly – not because of the action, but because of the prose.

I might have to give Catch-22 another go.

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2 Responses

  1. How do you find time to read anfd do a comic like you do?
    I do minis and it takes me weeks to do those. You seem to be going at a rate of a page every 2 days.

    • Actually, the way I do it is a very complicated, multi-step process.
      I write it, send it to Colacitti (sometimes with breakdowns, sometimes with thumbnails, sometimes with just a description), when he’s done with it, he sends it back to me, I ink it, then tone it, then letter it, then make any corrections.
      It averages out to about a page every three days.

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