Heller’s next novel combines elements from both Catch-22 and Something Happened in a bitter indictment of political ambition. It presents an ironic and bleakly futile version of a success story pursued by its Jewish protagonist Bruce Gold in his efforts to penetrate the world of Washington politics. Washington represents an updated variation on the bureaucracy of Heller’s first novel and displays just as many idiocies. What complicates Good as Gold (1979) is that the protagonist increasingly displays Slocum’s ambivalence about achieving his original goals. Whereas Yossarian personified an ideally simple point of view, Bruce Gold demonstrates a dissociation of his ambitions from his critical intelligence and is consequently an unreliable commentator on his own experi-ences. A second complicating factor is the plot of the novel. Reflecting on the success of Catch-22, Heller has admitted that if he were to rewrite it he would ‘try to make the early chapters a little more coherent’ so as to avoid the reader’s initial difficulties with the text.1 Accordingly Good as Gold reads like a far more linear and orderly narrative than either of his preceding novels, partly be-cause Heller could assume that the potential trajectory of his protagonist’s success would be relatively clear in the reader’s mind. This method risks making the novel seem simpler than it is


Chinese Restaurant Jewish Experience Narrative Voice Press Officer Press Corps 
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  1. 2.
    Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern American Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984) p. 159.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Pearl K. Bell, ‘Heller and Malamud, Then and Now’, Commentary, vol. 67 (1979) p. 72.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Rudith Ruderman, ‘Upside-Down in Good as Gold: Moishe Kapoyer As Muse,’ Yiddish, vol. 5. iv (1984) p. 57.Google Scholar
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    Marvin Kalb and Bernard Kalb, Kissinger (London: Hutchinson, 1974).Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Charles Berryman, ‘Heller’s Gold’, Chicago Review, vol. 32. iv (1981) p. 114.Google Scholar
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    Rita Christopher, ‘On the train from Wilmingtori , Macleans, vol. 92, 16 Apr. 1979, p. 46.Google Scholar
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    Sam B. Girgus, The New Covenant: Jewish Writers and the American Idea (Chapel Hill: University of N. Carolina Press, 1984) p. 20.Google Scholar
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    Peter S. Prescott, Never in Doubt: Critical Essays on American Books, 1972–1985 (New York: Arbor House, 1986) p. 63.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Seed 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Seed
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolUK

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