Something Happened to Bob Slocum. Something Happened (it could’ve been his big brother and Billy Foster’s skinny kid sister, his shriveled mother’s last words, or maybe his mentally handicapped son Derek) to give middle aged Mr. Slocum a crippling apprehension of closed doors, a tendency to steal identity, and the inability to be happy. Slocum is the envy of his colleagues and idolized by his juniors. He lives with a beautiful wife and three children in a comfortable, modern home. He is successful in his job, popular with most of his executives, and looks forward to a sizable promotion. As a bonus, Slocum’s good looks, fit body, and smooth talk grant him all the mistresses he desires.
However, under the pretext of a collected and suave man, Slocum nurses a miserable, needy, and cruel child inside. He has desires (other than the ones set aside for actresses, dancers, airline stewardesses, and secretaries) to burst into fits of politically incorrect violence. He frightens his wife. He frightens his children. Slocum sees his daughter, at the unstable age of sixteen, consistently run to him for security and reassurance, but cannot resist giving her scathing remarks about her dress, vulgar language, and drug-addicted friends. It breaks his heart that his little boy does not trust him. In the darkest labyrinth of his mind, Slocum knows Something will Happen to his little boy, and he is already prepared for the anguish and grief to come. His third child, Derek, is a vegetable who will not surpass the mental age of five and will never speak. Bob Slocum goes through life in a tangle of anxiety, identity crisis, bad memories, and tasteless sex until…Something Happened.
Joseph Heller is the author of Catch 22, a satirical bestseller published in 1961 and also my favorite novel. Catch 22 was followed by a second controversial novel, Something Happened, told from inside the mind of main character Bob Slocum. Something Happened is a dirty, sarcastic, and darkly ironic story mocking the business world and American culture. The plot line is a mature but fascinating one; Slocum’s thoughts are very sassy and full of dry humor. In Heller’s writing, many embarrassing and relatable handicaps of human nature are exposed. I believe Bob Slocum was created to represent the vengeful and selfish part of consciousness we all secretly visit. I recommend Heller’s second novel for anyone that enjoys dynamic satire…there is a horrified yet amused agony in store when Slocum’s Something finally Happens.