Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Aug 23, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
THROUGHOUT ERICA HELLER’S LIFE, when people learned that Joseph Heller was her father, they often remarked, “How terrific!” But was there a catch? Like his most famous work, her father was a study in contradictions: eccentric, brilliant, and voracious, but also mercurial, competitive, and stubborn, with a love of mischief that sometimes cut too close to the bone. Being raised by such a larger than- life personality could be claustrophobic, even at the sprawling Upper West Side apartments of the Apthorp, which the Hellers called home—in one way or another—for forty-five years.

Yossarian Slept Here is Erica Heller’s wickedly funny but also poignant and incisive memoir about growing up in a family—her iconic father; her wry, beautiful mother, Shirley; her younger brother, Ted; her relentlessly inventive grandmother Dottie—that could be by turns caring, infuriating, and exasperating, though anything but dull. From the forbidden pleasures of ordering shrimp cocktail when it was beyond the family’s budget to spending a summer, as her father’s fame grew, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Erica details the Hellers’ charmed—and charmingly turbulent— trajectory. She offers a rare glimpse of meetings with the Gourmet Club, where her father would dine weekly with Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, and Mario Puzo, among others (and from which all wives and children were strictly verboten). She introduces us to many extraordinary residents of the Apthorp, some famous—George Balanchine, Sidney Poitier, and Lena Horne, to name a few—and some not famous, but all quite memorable. Yet she also manages to limn the complex bonds of loyalty and guilt, hurt and healing, that define every family. Erica was among those present at her father’s bedside as he struggled to recover from Guillain-Barré syndrome and then cared for her mother when Shirley was diagnosed with terminal cancer after the thirty-eight-year marriage and intensely passionate partnership with Joe had ended.

Witty and perceptive, and displaying the descriptive gifts of a born storyteller, this authentic and colorful portrait of life in the Heller household unfolds alongside the saga of the family’s moves into four distinctive apartments within the Apthorp, each representing a different phase of their lives together—and apart. It is a story about achieving a dream; about fame and its aftermath; about lasting love, squandered opportunities, and how to have the best meal in Chinatown.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Thomas_Cannon - LibraryThing

A great book. Erica gave a lot of insights into the man and author. She related some crazy and sad things about her dad that I almost wish I didn't know. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Thomas_Cannon - LibraryThing

A great book. Erica gave a lot of insights into the man and author. She related some crazy and sad things about her dad that I almost wish I didn't know. Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
PART 1
THE SORROW AND THE PITTI
LOSE A MINKGAIN AN APARTMENT
TWO TOUGH COOKIESONE RECIPE FOR DISASTER
COLD COMFORTHOT BUTTERSCOTCH
LONG BEACH SHORT STOPS
GOTTLIEB TO THE RESCUE
ALAS THE CENTER WOULD NOT HOLD
1980 THE MAN WITH A PLAN
CLAUS IN THE HOUSE
HELLER EXEUNT
THE GIMLETEYED JOURNALIST THE ANTSY NOVELIST AND THE PREDICTION THAT CAME TRUE
PART 3
SHIRLEYS NEW HUSBAND
THE NURSE IN THE LIMEGREEN SWEATER

WHERE THE HELL DID YOU EVERLEARN TO EAT LIKE THAT?
PART 2
PRACTICE MAKES IMPERFECT
LET THERE BE SHRIMP
HELLERS COMPLAINT
THE INS AND OUTS OF THE APTHORP UPS AND DOWNS
HE COULD WRITEHE JUST COULDNT SHOP
A BROTHER BY ANY OTHER NAME
POWERFUL EVERLASTING LOVE x 2
MARIO PUZO AN AUTHORYOU CANT REFUSE
BLAME IT ON THE BOSSA NOVA
OF BOMBS AND BOMBOLONI
DID I DARE TO EAT A PEACH?
MIKE NICHOLSA SUNDAY MORNING AND THEWRITER FROM CONEY WHO CRIED
CRITICAL MASS
ONLY PARTLY TO DO WITH SEX
BLOODY HELL
THE PRESIDENT RESIGNS SHIRLEY BEGINS TO DEFECT
A SURPRISE PARTY WITH THE WRONG KIND OF SURPRISE
TOLSTOY THE CIRCUS AND THE GRADUATION THAT ALMOST WASNT
THEYLL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS OR ONLY SOMETIMES?
NO NOBEL BUT INSTEAD A LOVELY SWEDISH FRIENDSHIP
SO WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED WITH SOMETHING HAPPENED?
LONG DAYS JOURNEY NOT INTO WOODYS PARTY
LIMOS AND LYNX
MILO MINDERBINDER AND THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHING SLIPCOVERS
CURRIED TUNA VALIUM AND CANCER
THE THEATER OF RAGE
JOYEUSES FÊTES? ALMOST
SHE WAS MEANT TO GROW OLD IN PARIS
DOTTIE IN THE DARK
AU REVOIR A LA APTHORPIA?
GRIEF MIT SCHLAG
APTHORPIUS EVICTUS?
ASHES TO ASHES DUST TO DUSTBUSTER
PART 4
NO APARTMENTS TOO GOOD FOR MY LITTLE GIRL
THE WOMAN WITH A GUILLOTINE ON SOUTH OCEAN DRIVE
THEY JUST DANCED
IK HOU VAN JE MEANS I LOVE YOU IN DUTCH
LIKE THOSE DIVERS WHO LEAP OFF A CLIFF IN ACAPULCO
THE BEST CHINESE DUMPLINGS IN LA?
AMIS TO IMUS FIRST AND LASTING IMPRESSIONS
TEA SYMPATHY AND JUST A LITTLE BIT OF A LAWSUIT
WHISTLING PAST A GRAVEYARD FILLED WITH POT ROAST?
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM IS FIFTY YEARS OLD AND 464 PAGES LONG
THE RECIPE FOR DOTTIE HELDS 10000 POT ROAST
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
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