I served in the Air Force myself so there was an immediate connection. My time, 1985-2007, was undoubtedly very different from WWII, but there are still elements of military life, tedium, and bureaucracy that resonate. Catch-22 reminds me of M*A*S*H, the TV show. But Heller portrays military life so preposterously as to make it unbelievable. I have no issue with that, comedy is a gross exaggeration of the truth, so I can suspend disbelief for a laugh and entertainment. I have no doubt there were absurd moments, bizarre circumstances, enacted by incompetent players for ludicrous ends, but I can’t take most of the story seriously.
The concept of Catch-22 named, but certainly not invented, by Heller is quite entertaining:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
Film Rendition: 1970 starring Alan Arkin and an all-star cast. A very good portrayal, excellent casting, and pretty true to the novel.