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The Ha-Ha

The Ha-Ha Cover

 

Staff Pick

Enter the luminous, silent world of The Ha-Ha. Through the power of language, Dave King takes you into the mind of the main character, a man who cannot speak or write, but who is filled with unspoken words. King illustrates how relationships are built on many different foundations and the depth of this character comes from his struggle to overcome his self-imposed idea of what he can communicate or accomplish in his life. The Ha-Ha makes you realize the beauty and limitations of the spoken word.
Recommended by Miriam, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"[F]or us, transported into Howard's mind by the magic of fiction, his long-silenced voice is irresistible. He's unfailingly honest, determined to survive the second half of his life without succumbing to hope or despair....[T]his is ultimately a story of smothered tenderness coaxed back to flame. In the poetic voice of a silent man, King has created a strangely lovable hero whose chance for happiness will matter to you deeply." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A debut novel of extraordinary emotional power: When a mute war veteran opens his home to a young boy, he gets a glimpse of life outside his shell — with all its exuberant joys and crushing sorrows.

Its been 30 years since a Vietnam War injury left Howard Kapostash unable to speak, read, or write. Since then he can communicate only with sounds and gestures — a condition that makes him appear slow and disturbed. But inside his head, Howie is the same man he was before the war, longing for Sylvia, his high school sweetheart, and mourning his parents and his chance at a family. Howie's solitude comes to an abrupt end with a desperate phone call in the middle of the night; Sylvia is being forced into rehab and needs him to care for her nine-year-old son Ryan until she returns. Though Ryan's first days with Howie are strained by misunderstanding, his presence gradually transforms Howie and his entire household, which includes Laurel, a soup chef, and a pair of housepainters Howie grumpily thinks of as Nit and Nat. By midsummer, their once-cold home is alive with the happiness, disappointment, and love of a real family. But with Sylvia's return imminent, Howie is obliged to wonder if the change is only temporary — and to reconsider, in the process, just what the war cost him. Triumphant and heartbreaking, The Ha-Ha tells a singular and engaging story and heralds the arrival of a tremendous new voice in fiction.

Review:

"Owing to a head injury he suffered 16 days into his Vietnam tour, Howard Kapostash, the narrator of King's graceful, measured debut novel, can neither speak, write nor read. Now middle-aged, Howard lives a lackluster existence in the house where he grew up, along with housemates Laurel, a Vietnamese-American maker of gourmet soups for local restaurants, and two housepainters — essentially interchangeable postcollege jocks — whom he refers to as Nit and Nat. But everything changes when Sylvia, the former girlfriend he's loved since high school, heads to drug rehab, saddling Howard with Ryan, her taciturn nine-year-old son. What happens over the course of the next couple hundred pages will not surprise readers — slowly, Nit and Nat learn responsibility, Laurel discovers her maternal side, Ryan opens up and Howie learns about life and love amid school concerts and Little League games — but it is lovingly rendered in careful, steady prose. 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 — Howard often ruminates on the nature of his injury and the things he'd say if he could; his days vary little — it does so with poise and heart. Drama arises with Sylvia's return and Howard nearly loses it, but life and healing are now forever possible. Agent, Kim Goldstein at the Susan Golomb Literary Agency. 3-city author tour. (Jan. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Wonderfully accomplished and achingly full of heart." Richard Russo

Review:

"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." Anna Quindlen

Review:

"A plot summary of this vibrant first novel may sound depressing, but King handles the story with honesty, skill, and humor." Jim Coan, Library Journal

Review:

"King will be a writer to watch." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"How richly this new fiction addresses itself to suffering and its synonym patience, for patience is not just a "hard thing," as Hopkins once said, but the way things behave. Perhaps The Ha-Ha scrutinizes behavior so closely because Howie Kapostash, its wounded protagonist, cannot speak, only act — or fail to act. The result is a new kind of eloquence, and the reader as well as the hero is rewarded by a new kind of wisdom, the sagesse of the wounded body. Dave King has written a profound lyric of the moral life — in patient prose!" Richard Howard

Review:

"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." Nicholas Christopher

Review:

"[A] feel-good book for people who normally shy away from feel-good books." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"[O]ffers moments of such soaring beauty that there's nothing to do but revel in the shimmering world that's been created." Oregonian

Review:

"The morals that lie at the heart of this novel are subtle and complex. King has also achieved the nearly impossible by writing about grim circumstances without writing a grim book." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"In the poetic voice of a silent man, King has created a strangely lovable hero whose chance for happiness will matter to you deeply." Christian Science Monitor

Synopsis:

A debut novel of extraordinary emotional power: When a mute war veteran opens his home to a young boy, he gets a glimpse of life outside his shell — with all its exuberant joys and crushing sorrows.

About the Author

Dave King holds a BFA in painting and film from Cooper Union and an MFA in writing from Columbia University. He has been published in The Paris Review and Big City Lit, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Melissa Frazell, May 23, 2011 (view all comments by Melissa Frazell)
I loved this story. I kept trying to put myself into the main characters shoes, and imagine what it would be like to only be able to communicate with gestures. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping into his life and reading about the failures and successes. It's a heartfelt book that will stick with you for a long time.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Susan Dawson, November 29, 2006 (view all comments by Susan Dawson)
A very moving book--one that I stayed in my memory for a long time. I have written the author, who is a teacher. His students, I hope realize how lucky they are to have him as a professor. I have corresponded online with Mr. King, and the last I knew, movie rights had been picked up on his book. Casting would be difficult, but if and when the movie is made, I will be standing in line to see it.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(15 of 28 readers found this comment helpful)
Laurie Blum, November 29, 2006 (view all comments by Laurie Blum)
WHAT A COURAGEOUS AUTHOR DAVE KING WAS TO CONQUER HIS FIRST NOVEL WHICH DEALT WITH THE TOUGH THEMES OF DRUG ABUSE, A DAMAGED MAN ILLUSTRATING HIS LIFE DURING A BRUTAL WAR - BRAVO TO THE LEAD CHARACTER, HOWARD! BE SURE TO READ AND RE-READ "THE HA-HA!" CHEERS! 5 STARS!
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(17 of 39 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780316156103
Publisher:
Little Brown and Company
Subject:
General
Author:
King, Dave
Subject:
Boys
Subject:
Veterans
Publication Date:
January 2005
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.68x6.34x1.17 in. 1.27 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Ha-Ha
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316156103 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Enter the luminous, silent world of The Ha-Ha. Through the power of language, Dave King takes you into the mind of the main character, a man who cannot speak or write, but who is filled with unspoken words. King illustrates how relationships are built on many different foundations and the depth of this character comes from his struggle to overcome his self-imposed idea of what he can communicate or accomplish in his life. The Ha-Ha makes you realize the beauty and limitations of the spoken word.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Owing to a head injury he suffered 16 days into his Vietnam tour, Howard Kapostash, the narrator of King's graceful, measured debut novel, can neither speak, write nor read. Now middle-aged, Howard lives a lackluster existence in the house where he grew up, along with housemates Laurel, a Vietnamese-American maker of gourmet soups for local restaurants, and two housepainters — essentially interchangeable postcollege jocks — whom he refers to as Nit and Nat. But everything changes when Sylvia, the former girlfriend he's loved since high school, heads to drug rehab, saddling Howard with Ryan, her taciturn nine-year-old son. What happens over the course of the next couple hundred pages will not surprise readers — slowly, Nit and Nat learn responsibility, Laurel discovers her maternal side, Ryan opens up and Howie learns about life and love amid school concerts and Little League games — but it is lovingly rendered in careful, steady prose. 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 — Howard often ruminates on the nature of his injury and the things he'd say if he could; his days vary little — it does so with poise and heart. Drama arises with Sylvia's return and Howard nearly loses it, but life and healing are now forever possible. Agent, Kim Goldstein at the Susan Golomb Literary Agency. 3-city author tour. (Jan. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "[F]or us, transported into Howard's mind by the magic of fiction, his long-silenced voice is irresistible. He's unfailingly honest, determined to survive the second half of his life without succumbing to hope or despair....[T]his is ultimately a story of smothered tenderness coaxed back to flame. In the poetic voice of a silent man, King has created a strangely lovable hero whose chance for happiness will matter to you deeply." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "Wonderfully accomplished and achingly full of heart."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A plot summary of this vibrant first novel may sound depressing, but King handles the story with honesty, skill, and humor."
"Review" by , "King will be a writer to watch."
"Review" by , "How richly this new fiction addresses itself to suffering and its synonym patience, for patience is not just a "hard thing," as Hopkins once said, but the way things behave. Perhaps The Ha-Ha scrutinizes behavior so closely because Howie Kapostash, its wounded protagonist, cannot speak, only act — or fail to act. The result is a new kind of eloquence, and the reader as well as the hero is rewarded by a new kind of wisdom, the sagesse of the wounded body. Dave King has written a profound lyric of the moral life — in patient prose!"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[A] feel-good book for people who normally shy away from feel-good books."
"Review" by , "[O]ffers moments of such soaring beauty that there's nothing to do but revel in the shimmering world that's been created."
"Review" by , "The morals that lie at the heart of this novel are subtle and complex. King has also achieved the nearly impossible by writing about grim circumstances without writing a grim book."
"Review" by , "In the poetic voice of a silent man, King has created a strangely lovable hero whose chance for happiness will matter to you deeply."
"Synopsis" by , A debut novel of extraordinary emotional power: When a mute war veteran opens his home to a young boy, he gets a glimpse of life outside his shell — with all its exuberant joys and crushing sorrows.
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