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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

This title in other editions

The Ha-Ha

by

The Ha-Ha Cover

 

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:

"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:

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

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:

"There's nothing forced or sentimental here....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, Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"King's writerly restraint serves his story well....The Ha-Ha is full of emotional truth." New York Times

Review:

"It's impossible to read this novel without thinking about our present gloomy war and the emotional casualties suffered by soldiers' families and friends....Equally impressive is the technical achievement of writing a novel from the point of view of a character who cannot speak, read or write." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"The Ha-Ha also offers moments of such soaring beauty that there's nothing to do but revel in the shimmering world that's been created." Portland Oregonian

Review:

"The ending of The Ha-Ha is neither happy nor sad. Instead, it's...as real as Howard's voice, which will echo long in the reader's ear long after the book is finished." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"The Ha-Ha is more than its clever literary comparisons....In this extraordinarily good novel, human connectedness may not be all one needs, but it's the only thing worth living for." Orlando Sentinel

Review:

"The strength of King's insight as a storyteller is his consistency. He's unwilling to give in to simplistic Hollywood-style endings and contrived transformations." Rocky Mountian News

Synopsis:

A national bestseller 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

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

R Randall, July 21, 2008 (view all comments by R Randall)
One of the most unusual stories, in its way, I have ever read. The main character cannot speak, read or write due to a Vietnam war injury. The novel is his thoughts, everything going on inside, most of which people outside him can only guess at through his actions, his communication through charade, mime, gesture and however else he tries to make himself understood --- when he cares to try.
I found it a very interesting read. Apparently it is King's first actual novel. One waits eagerly for more.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)
deboltkaren, June 12, 2007 (view all comments by deboltkaren)
?The Ha Ha? ? the title sounds dumb but it is about a Vietnam Vet that got severely injured on his first 16 days in Vietnam and eventually inherits his parent?s home, never regains the power of speech and lives with three roommates (2 painters and a Vietnamese girl- raised in Texas [platonic]), works for nuns doing landscaping. His high school girlfriend who is an alcoholic checks herself into rehab and drops off her 9 y.o. biracial son (not his) for him to take care of while she?s getting sober. Really well written and the characters are very believable.
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(9 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316010719
Author:
King, Dave
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Boys
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20060331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
340
Dimensions:
8.28x6.38x1.01 in. .71 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine

The Ha-Ha Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$1.95 In Stock
Product details 340 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316010719 Reviews:
"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 , "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 , "King will be a writer to watch."
"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 , "There's nothing forced or sentimental here....In the poetic voice of a silent man, King has created a strangely lovable hero whose chance for happiness will matter to you deeply."
"Review" by , "King's writerly restraint serves his story well....The Ha-Ha is full of emotional truth."
"Review" by , "It's impossible to read this novel without thinking about our present gloomy war and the emotional casualties suffered by soldiers' families and friends....Equally impressive is the technical achievement of writing a novel from the point of view of a character who cannot speak, read or write."
"Review" by , "The Ha-Ha also offers moments of such soaring beauty that there's nothing to do but revel in the shimmering world that's been created."
"Review" by , "The ending of The Ha-Ha is neither happy nor sad. Instead, it's...as real as Howard's voice, which will echo long in the reader's ear long after the book is finished."
"Review" by , "The Ha-Ha is more than its clever literary comparisons....In this extraordinarily good novel, human connectedness may not be all one needs, but it's the only thing worth living for."
"Review" by , "The strength of King's insight as a storyteller is his consistency. He's unwilling to give in to simplistic Hollywood-style endings and contrived transformations."
"Synopsis" by , A national bestseller 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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