Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Ha-Ha

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The Ha-Ha

by Dave King

The Ha-Ha by Dave King
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2005, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2006, 368 pages

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Beyond the Book

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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 fissure—traumatic brain injury—in the landscape of the protagonist's life.'

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 were suggestions that if he hadn't been autistic, he would have been the golden boy—big and strong and good-looking and sweet-tempered. When he passed away in 1993, I began for the first time to contemplate what his life could have been like. I remember thinking, he was the one who would have had to deal with Vietnam. And that intrigued me.'

This article is from the March 2, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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