Catch-22 has much passion, comic and fervent, but it gasps for want of craft and sensibility … the book is no novel.

One can say that it is much too long because its material … is repetitive and monotonous. Or one can say that it is too short because none of its many interesting characters and actions is given enough play to become a controlling interest.

The book is an emotional hodgepodge; no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter.

—Richard G. Stern, The New York Times, 1961

… a debris of sour jokes, stage anger, dirty words, synthetic looniness, and the sort of antic behavior the children fall into when they know they are losing our attention.

—Whitney Balliett, The New Yorker