Arts and Culture

Books that made a difference – Bob Kovitz

To submit  your “Books that made a difference” entry,  mouse over “Contact” and  select “Books that made a difference” from the drop-down menu.. Submissions will be posted online and selected entries will appear in the AJP Rosh Hashanah issue on Sept. 3.

Bob Kovitz

In Basic Training for the U.S. Army, we were allowed to keep one book in our footlockers. Most of my squad members placed the bible in the allocated spot. However, I took Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” with me–just to remind me of the insanity of war and the inanity of the Army rules, and I tried to read a chapter every night. It was worth the look on the sergeants’ faces when they came to inspect my footlocker. “What’s this, Kovitz,” they’d ask. “A book, sergeant,” I’d answer, doing my best imitation of the book’s protagonist, Yossarian, as if these soldiers had never seen anything but the bible before. My book choice was justified when, later in my service, the camp psychiatrist came to my office, slumped down in a chair by my desk, and said “This place is driving me crazy.” Heller could not have written it any better.

–Bob Kovitz