An unforgettable first novel about silence, family, and the imperative of
Howard Kapostash has not spoken in thirty years. Ever since a severe blow to
the head during his days in the Army, words unravel in his mouth and letters on
the page make no sense at all. Because of his extremely limited communication
abilities-a small repertory of gestures and simple sounds--most people think he
is disturbed. No one understands that Howard is still the same man he was before
enlisting, still awed by the beauty of a landscape, still pining for his high
school sweetheart, Sylvia.
Now Sylvia is a single mom with troubles of her own, and she needs Howard's
help. She is being hauled into a drug rehab program and she asks Howard to care
for her nine-year-old son, Ryan. The presence of this nervous, resourceful boy
in Howard's life transforms him utterly. With a child's happiness at stake,
communication takes on a fresh urgency, and the routine that Howard has evolved
over the years--designed specifically to minimize the agony of human
contact--suddenly feels restrictive and even dangerous. Forced out of his groove,
Howard finds unexpected delights (in baseball, in work, in meals with his
housemates). His home comes alive with the joys, sorrows, and love of a real
family. But these changes also open Howard to the risks of loss and to the rage
he has spent a lifetime suppressing.
Written with a luminous simplicity and grace, The Ha-Ha follows Howard
down his difficult path to a new life. It is a deeply moving and unforgettable
story about the cost of war and the infinite worth of human connection.
Also available as an abridged or full length audiobook, read by Terry Kinney
Booklist - Deborah Donovan
King's compelling, compassionate debut revolves around Howie, who suffered a
head injury in Vietnam and now can neither speak nor write.....The reader is drawn into Howie's world
and roots for him with every first step he takes.
Like Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World,
the novel explores familial bonds arising between people with no blood ties, and
if the novel lingers too long on its notes, thematic and otherwise..it does so with poise and heart.
Library Journal - Jim Coan
A plot summary of this vibrant first novel may sound depressing, but King
handles the story with honesty, skill, and humor....King writes convincingly from inside Howard,
offering entertaining descriptions of the small triumphs and sometimes humorous,
sometimes tragic mistakes of a man reaching out to the world from deep inside
himself. Recommended for all collections.
First novel about a man badly scarred in Vietnam, and scarred by it, who at last
begins recovery....King will be a writer to
In this brave and graceful novel, Dave King vividly connects us to a character
whose own connections to the outside world are almost nonexistent. As readers,
we get to see inside this man, flawed and funny and complex and tragic as he is,
in a way no one around him can, and we are grateful to Dave King for that
Nicholas Christopher, author of A Trip to the Stars
The Ha-Ha is an immense pleasure. Stylish and assured, filled
with wit and wisdom, its narrative depth and rich characterizations are all the
more impressive when one considers that this is Mr. King's first novel, the
beginning of what promises to be a wonderful journey-for him, and us.
Frederick Busch, author of The Night Inspector
The Ha-Ha is a merry, serious inquiry into how love is given and accepted by a
memorable string characters for whom you will find yourself cheering. Cheers too
for Dave King's accomplished debut.
Anna Quindlen, Book-of-the-Month Club judge
Jo March, Holden Caulfield, David Copperfield, Alexander Portnoy many
of literature's most memorable novels became so because the protagonist was
utterly unforgettable and completely human. That's the key to Dave King's first
novel entitled The Ha-Ha. Howard stays with you for a long, long time
afterward, one of those fictional everymen who teach you about yourself just by
showing up. I missed him terribly when the book was done.
Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
What earthly business does Dave King have writing a first novel as
wonderfully accomplished and achingly full of heart as The Ha-Ha?. That's
what the rest of us would like to know.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Chad Excellent! A Must Read! Best book I've read in months. I would compare it favorably to The Memory of Running. It's not always happy or neat and tidy, but I think that King does a great job of trying to relay what it would be like to be unable to communicate... Read More
Rated of 5
by Louise A wonderfully rewarding read Contraray to the other review, I loved this book to the point I would save each chapter until I could really appreciate it. It is a wonderfully warm, funny as well as sad glimpse at the life of someone that has very limited communication skills,... Read More
Rated of 5
by a dooling
I hated this "nothing much goes on" book. Further, it was quite depressing. Nothing gets resolved and there was miles of room for providing some character depth of characters like Nit and Nat and even the cook. His reminising about Mom... Read More
A ha-ha, or haha (supposedly named for the reaction
people had on seeing one), is essentially a large ditch built
in place of a fence, to give the appearance that the garden and
surrounding lands are as one. It seems that they were introduced into
the UK from France in the 18th century by Lancelot
'Capability' Brown, or possibly earlier by Charles
Bridgeman. They were part of a movement in gardening away from
formal gardens to a more 'natural' style of landscaping.
As King says, 'there's an actual ha-ha (in the novel), of course, and it plays a major role in
the story, but the symbolic relevance is the presence of a huge unaddressed
fissuretraumatic brain injuryin the landscape of the protagonist's
When asked where the idea for his first novel came from he replied, 'My brother Hank was autistic; he was six years older than me. When Hank was
alive, I never imagined him going to Vietnam. There...
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...