On a lighter note: the naming of Catch-22

The current issue of The New York Review of Books has a delightful review of Robert Gottlieb's memoir Avid Reader. Gottlieb is an editor, hired at Simon and Schuster when he was twenty-four and at eighty-five still working, though with a reduced load, at Knopf. His career was made early, age twenty-six, when he edited Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

Benfey recounts how Catch-22 ended up with precisely that title.

Who, for example, came up with the title "Catch-22," when the manuscript, on the verge of publication, was "Catch-18," just as Leon Uris's Mila 18 was announced, mandating a change? Was it because October 22 was, as Heller's formidable agent, Candida Donadio, let it be known, her birthday? Not at all, Gottlieb says. "One night I was lying in bed, gnawing at the problem. I had a revelation. Early the next morning I called Joe and burst out, 'Joe, I've got it! Twenty-two! It's even funnier than eighteen!'" (The Long-Distance Reader)

I love this kind of thing.



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