Read The Ha-Ha by Dave King Online


Howard Kapostash has not spoken in thirty years. The small repertory of gestures and simple sounds that he uses to communicate lead most people to assume he is disturbed. No one understands that Howard is still the same man he was before his tragic injury. But when he agrees to help an old girlfriend by opening his home to her nine-year-old son, the presence of this nervouHoward Kapostash has not spoken in thirty years. The small repertory of gestures and simple sounds that he uses to communicate lead most people to assume he is disturbed. No one understands that Howard is still the same man he was before his tragic injury. But when he agrees to help an old girlfriend by opening his home to her nine-year-old son, the presence of this nervous, resourceful boy in his life transforms Howard utterly. He is afforded a rare glimpse of life outside his shell ? with all its exuberant joys and crushing sorrows....

Title : The Ha-Ha
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316010719
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Ha-Ha Reviews

  • David
    2019-04-16 03:23

    I kept waiting for this book to veer into mawkishness, and it is to Dave King's enormous credit that he managed to avoid this particular trap. For a first novel, this is pretty impressive, and I will definitely be on the lookout for further work by this author. Not a perfect book by any means, but a very good one. It has an understated power that creeps up on you. I recommend it highly. I'm deliberately stingy with my five-star ratings, but I did consider it here. Which probably translates to 4.5 stars, truth be told.

  • LeAnne
    2019-04-05 04:19

    Phenomenal story of redemption. Howard had barely made it to Viet Nam when a head injury sent him to the VA hospital, then rehabilitation, and ultimately back home to his parents' house. While his faculties are intact and he moves just fine, his ability to form words - written or spoken - has been taken away by the brain injury. But Howard still can think - very clearly - and what he has to say as the story's narrator is excellent. Imagine a highly intelligent man stuck in a menial lawn mowing job, hired as charity by a group of nuns, and forced to rent out rooms to a couple of nit wits in order to make ends meet. Imagine that because you can no longer speak or write, everyone around you considers you to have the mental faculties of a child. Howard is annoyed with how life has turned out, and nobody is more surprised than he when his old girlfriend deposits her only child in his arms on her way to court ordered drug rehab. Suddenly, Howard has to communicate - even if just with gestures - with the boy. He is forced to ask the roommates for help. Howard begins to have hope, but he realizes that what he has with the child is temporary - a taste of what he will never have.There are some exceedingly dark scenes here that left me with tears and others full of joy. There are a couple of graphic sexual moments, but they serve as a window into Howard's emotions. You will find that a "ha-ha" is really just a landscaping trick - a way to assemble hedges or a berm to obscure the view of things we'd rather not see. Howard mows and grooms that ha-ha weekly, but as the story reaches its hopeful conclusion, he is able to look out upon a horizon finally unobscured. 5 stars and on my favorites shelf.

  • Lori
    2019-04-09 03:18

    I picked this up as a harcover on sale for 5 bucks, read the flap and thought, ok, this might work...Wow. It is such a great story written in such an easy, down to earth, everyman (but not, as youll soon see) tone....The main character had severe head trama in the war at a young age, came home, had surgery, but lost the ability to speak, and write and sometimes has trouble reading. He is normal in every other sense of the word. Holds down a job, has a few close friends, manages to get by on his own until he gets the phone call....You follow his struggles as a woman friend he secretly pines for goes to drug rehab and leaves him in charge of her tweenage son..... he must find ways to communicate with the kid, and the world around him.... its a love story, and a story about overcoming ones disability in the face of adversary....please do your self a favor and read this one. Its amazing.

  • John
    2019-04-10 02:34

    I listened to the unabridged audio, and can highly recommend it. Howard is mute, yet you're hearing his thoughts, a far more intense experience than reading them in print. Moreover, the narrator does a great job with the other characters as well, especially Laurel's soft Texas twang.

  • Mara
    2019-04-15 00:16

    Although the title might lead one to think that it's funny, this book was described to me as "depressing." In fact, the title refers to a type of hidden retaining wall, rather than laughter. Either way, though, I wouldn't describe the book depressing myself, aside from the steep slide downward toward the end.Rather, I'd say this book is astonishingly hopeful. Our main character has overcome a great deal of adversity, and managed to make a life for himself despite an injury that has left him unable to speak or to read easily. He has overcome addiction and the death of parents. He has made a life for himself, and achieved an equilibrium largely characterized by his detachment from the people around him.But when his high school sweetheart asks him to take in her 9-year-old son, Ryan, while she goes to rehab, he finds that they are able to form a bond. But perhaps this emotional reawakening is not all that Howard thinks it will be. Inevitably, though, Ryan must return to his mother, and Howard finds his newly constructed world unraveling.This is the depressing part of the book, which perhaps is more drawn out than it needed to be. Again, Howard must struggle, but this time, instead of finding solace in solitude, Howard is able to turn to the relationships he formed through Ryan and find comfort in companionship.

  • Candice
    2019-03-31 02:18

    I enjoyed this book, but not a lot. The main character, Howard, suffered a severe head injury in Vietnam and cannot speak. He has much difficulty reading, and can barely write as well. So how did he tell this story? I know I probably shouldn't wonder about this, but I do. It was a sweet story, with mostly well-developed characters.Howard is asked by his ex-girlfriend to care for her 9-year-old son while she is in rehab. Predictably, the veteran and the boy form a bond. It is not all sweetness. There are some scenes that are filled with anger and suffering. I thought that the book dragged in places, mostly toward the end. But all in all, it was a good story and it showed what caring for someone other than yourself can do to a person.

  • gaudeo
    2019-04-04 02:25

    This book, the author's first novel, centers on Howard, a man whose Vietnam injury left him speechless yet still sound of mind. This malady makes for a very interesting story, especially as other characters misunderstand his actions, especially at the book's climax. King's talented work brings to mind Mark Haddon's "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" and Emma Healey's "Elizabeth Is Missing," each of which also tells a story from the perspective of a "disabled" narrator. King is no less gifted at conveying the joys, difficulties, and heartaches of life with Howard's condition. Howard's developing relationship with nine-year-old Ryan is especially endearing. I recommend this book highly.

  • Mom2nine
    2019-04-18 21:23

    This story deals with difficult issues in a very believable manner. I felt as though every character played his/her part well, from the 9 yr. old, to the former jock 20 somethings to the drug addict mom and the main character Vietnam vet, head-injury Howard. King was into Howard's head and I could feel his pain. I kept wondering what would I do to help and what could the people around him do. A few of the reviews felt as though the war happened 20 yrs ago and he should have found a way to communicate. I found this believable, as I have met too many Vietnam vets whose time in Vietnam still affects their lives today. The book is probably not for the faint of heart, some have complained about foul language, crudity or explicitness. I did not find it gratuitous and felt that it fit and was possibly needed to flesh-out the characters. Medicine has more questions than answers for head injuries.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-27 03:15

    This is a book I would not have picked up without the recommendation from a friend -- and I really enjoyed it. It is about a man injured in the Vietnam War and now cannot speak. A Ha Ha is a burm or wall errected so that an illusion is created. A person looking out would see a landscape, for example, and not see what is really there -- like a highway below the burm.

  • Book Club Mom
    2019-04-24 00:40

    A ha ha is a turfed ditchWarning: Some spoilers below...The Ha Ha is an excellent novel about a Viet Nam vet with a severe brain injury, leaving him unable to speak. Thirty years after returning from Viet Nam, Howard Kapostash suddenly finds himself taking care of 9-year-old Ryan, whose mother Sylvia (Howard’s high school girlfriend) is in rehab for a cocaine addiction. Howard is middle-aged. His parents are dead. He lives in the house he grew up in with a detached group of boarders. Laurel, the only female, is a 30-something owner of a small gourmet soup business and helps Howard maintain the house. Two 30ish house painters, Steve and Harrison are new boarders.Written through Howard’s viewpoint, this is a story of how Ryan comes to be the force that joins these people together, how Howard struggles to care for Ryan and how all the characters assume new roles. Howard’s actions are often well-meant, but several are based on terrible judgment and lead to bad results, leaving Howard unable to explain himself.Howard is the kind of character you like despite his flaws and poor decisions. I was cheering for him all along. As Sylvia’s rehab continues, despite two disastrous visits, Howard imagines a new life with Sylvia and Ryan. All hopes unravel upon Sylvia’s return and Howard begins a downward and destructive spiral. These actions and the nagging question of why Howard never tried to learn sign language or another form of communication create a range of emotions in the reader. Anger for acting foolishly, for not caring enough to learn how to communicate, disgust for wallowing in drugs for years after his injury. Love for how much he cares about Ryan and how he steps up to the challenge.The ending allows the reader to imagine the future and I still find myself wondering how Howard is doing.

  • jimtown
    2019-04-21 22:36

    Meeting Howard and reading his thoughts, things he's been unable to voice for thirty years was a like meeting a new friend that seems as if you've known forever. The first 3/4 of The Ha-Ha was mild and entertaining. The idea for this book and character was inspired. The whole cast of characters is well thought out. After a huge setback in his life, Howard still hangs on to every word and every movement and the tentative friendship of Sylvia who can do no wrong in his eyes. When she calls on Howard to care for her nine year old son, (obviously not Howie's child) while she goes into rehab Howard can't refuse Sylvia but enters into the arrangement with many doubts. He can't speak so how will he communicate with the boy? Though he doesn't realize it, Howard has a group of friends that make a wonderful support system and as he and Ryan find their way, Howard starts to see Sylvia in a different light. The story builds from the mild beginning to a crashing turning point and an unexpected ending. I found Howard increasingly likable. The only confusing part was the strange encounters with Timothy, the homeless person that Howard would always be on the look out for on his night walks. Perhaps Timothy was like a warning of what Howard might become if he didn't keep control. Very good book, well written.

  • Rachael
    2019-04-07 02:16

    30 years ago, after only 16 days in Vietnam, Howard was in an accident and suffered severe brain damage. Now he can neither speak, read, or write though he is of normal intelligence. Sounds like a sappy set-up, especailly when you through in an ex-girlfriend who is now a coked-up bitch on her way to rehab leaving her 9 year old son with Howard. King is able to do more than I anticipated with this character and his circumstances, all without becoming overly trite and 'redeeming'. Howard doesn't change drastically in the eight weeks Ryan is with him, there are no miracle cures, he doesn't learn to speak through the power of love for one small child. Yeah, he is drawn out of himself, and yeah, he does love the boy, but the changes he goes through are realistic and paibful, not all about healing and redemption. He loses his job for awhile, the simply continues doing crappy handyman stuff. There is the potential for romance with his friend Lauren, but nothing is a foregone conclusion. This book took an almost ludricous premise and made it seem real, illustrating how frustrating life can really be, and how intense experiences can have both profound and nearly insignificant impact on our lives. I was so glad it didn't have a Hollywood ending I almost cried with relief.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-29 22:31

    I originally bought this book for Dan at a yard sale last summer but ended up reading it myself this summer. It's a sentimental tale of a mute Vietnam war veteran who must care for a boy while his mother's recovering from a drug problem. King does a good job of helping the reader to empathize with the narrator's frustrations as he struggles to communicate with the people around him and build more meaningful relationships. King is also skilled at tracking the mundane chores and behaviors of daily life and making them fairly engaging to read. It certainly helps that the narrator spends a lot of time talking about delicious food. What King needs to work on, should he write other novels, is pacing. The plot pokes along for a couple hundred pages--a baseball game here, a building project there, a hot pancake breakfast over there--and then suddenly throws the characters into a profound crisis and gets them out of it in about 60 pages. It was rather like standing out in right field, getting distracted and sluggish from the warm sunshine, only to have a baseball fall from the sky and hit you on the head.

  • Bark
    2019-04-12 04:22

    This book was an easy listen and held my attention. My only complaint is that it seemed to only brush the surface of the complex emotions boiling beneath. This may not be the fault of the author as this version was abridged and I typically avoid abridgements for this reason and the fact that I hate to miss anything when listening to a novel.I found it interesting to read a book from the point of view of a character who cannot communicate with others via speech or writing and who has isolated himself from society because of his disability. I thought the characters were realistically written, especially Ryan, the wary child and his self-centered mother and liked the fact that none of these characters were perfect.I still can't figure out why the main character never bothered to learn sign language but then it would have been a different book altogether . . .All in all it was an interesting read.

  • Carol
    2019-04-01 02:37

    I really liked this book. All of the core characters are so richly developed, and the author puts us right into the main character, Howard's, head. The story vacillates from heartwrenching to joyous and everything in between. From Howard's situation of being appointed caretaker of a 9-year-old boy, the reader sees Howard's life transform from almost robot-like with only token interaction with others, to one of depth and rich relationships.And maybe Howard wasn't ready to feel so "human", as he unexpectedly comes to feel. The author takes us through the whole roller coaster ride with much skill. I felt like I was right in the middle of the story. It even made me nostalgic for my days as a little league baseball parent/coach - no small feat!As for why 4 stars and not 5? I can't say, other than I'm just stingy that way.

  • Latarsha
    2019-04-04 01:39

    The only issue I had with this book was I couldn't believe that a man who can't speak and can't write but understands what is being said around him did not learn how to read lips or sign language. Something about this character willfully relying on others to understand and interpret the world around him rang false. Why be so independent yet so unwilling to engage the world around you? I understand he's broken by what happened to him and still in mourning for a life that he thought was his, but that was the one thing that struck me as false. Otherwise, it was a good debut with a solid - albeit slightly petulant -- ending.

  • Kiessa
    2019-04-24 03:29

    I read somewhere that this was one of the best books of 2005.... I could see how some would think so.Smooth and full of life, this novel is a delightfully satisfying, believable and well written work of art that reminds me of Lori Lansens' writing. The characters are flawed and quirky, but are so well developed and evolving that they are likeable despite their failings.I would not have chosen this book by the title itself or the back cover summary, so I was glad to have come upon this book on a must-read list.

  • Marilyn
    2019-04-25 02:14

    Impressive first novel. A story that could turn to "depressing" really fast, never did that. I felt it was uplifting most of the time, and when it got sad (the first time I have cried over a novel in a long long time) you cry for the people who can't begin to understand what this man is experiencing. Through it all Howard is acutely aware of his shortcomings and deals with them in expected ways, even when he loses it! (who wouldn't under the circumstances) I would give this novel 4 and a half starts if goodreads allowed that.

  • Sheryl
    2019-04-01 05:27

    Howard, a Vietnam vet, was injured in the war, and lost his ability to speak. His former girlfriend is a coke addict looking for a place to leave her son while she goes to rehab, and Howard, who is at her beckon call, takes him in. The story, which has great potential, never takes off. Not only that, but the premise that Howard never learned sign language, or any method of communication isn't believable. This dog just wont hunt.

  • Tamsen
    2019-04-08 22:28

    This book is written from the perspective of a mute. Howie can't talk due to an injury sustained in Vietnam, and his brain's malfunctioning doesn't allow him to write or read either. Reading is a silent activity, but this is a book that made me feel even more silent. Contemplating Howie's life and reading about his struggles to communicate was even better than the plot to me.

  • Elise
    2019-03-26 22:24

    A very moving book with a completely new sort of protagonist. An interesting read to do right after putting down "Matterhorn." I wasn't crazy about the last fifth of the story but otherwise, I was really riveted by the writing and became very fond of the characters. Excellent writing about a boy from a man without children, also, which is impressive.

  • Chana Baichman
    2019-03-28 04:23

    The best book I have read in a long time, you will fall in love with these characters. I missed them and could not stop thinking about them after I had finished reading. Just of bunch of unusual people thrown together by life. You must read this!

  • Charlotte
    2019-04-17 00:13

    Oh! I loved this book. The ones I love I can never think of anything specific to say about them. I loved the voice and the characters and the ending and the boy in it also. yes.

  • MichelleVarrin
    2019-04-19 04:13

    A book for everyone. Beautifully written, funny, lovely, made life better for having read it.

  • Dav
    2019-03-29 03:29

    The Ha-Ha ● by Dave King. Ha-Ha is a boundary wall concealed in a ditch so it doesn't spoil the view (British). Howard Kapostash was wounded in Vietnam. His speech is severely impaired. He can't read or write, but has normal intellect & hearing.Now middle-aged and lonely, his old school love Sylvia shows up & gives Howard her 9 year old (Ryan) to care for while she's in rehab. He can't refuse his lost love's request. As a "father figure" his emotional wounds soon begin to mend. Howard works as a handyman & mows lawns using a large rider. He has renters in his house to help with the cost of living, Steve & Harris--he thinks of them as Knit & Knat. They can be a little dim, forgetting to wash the underside of a stack of plates. Knit & Knat easily befriend Ryan. After Sylvia graduates from rehab she seems to have become a first class "B*tch." Howard lets little Ryan ride on the mower with him. When he drives up close to the edge of the ha-ha, an abrut edge, it inadvertently scares Ryan, who jumps off the mower. It also cost Howard his job. Scaring the boy was one thing, but Howard was told repeatedly by his employer, 'Use the push mower near the edge, not the rider.' He understood, he just refused to comply. Howard's problem; he's become stuck in his ways, won't learn sign nor practice speech & expects the world to accommodate him. He's still bitter over his injury & misfortune. Only a couple of weeks in Vietnam & his Lieutenant stepped on mine, blowing them all up--it's not fair. Now he's lost his job. It's all just too much. He comes "unglued" & even attempts suicide.His friends & loved ones vouch for him to the authorities & make pleas on his behalf. He's soon able to get back to work & is on an even keel. Things work out, he has visits with Ryan & is "over" that b**** Sylvia. Laurel, his asian friend who helps out with paperwork, shows her love and he likes her too.Howard is a disagreeable, but likeable character. You come to understand his frustration & want to root for him no matter what. An excellent story by Dave King.

  • Etola
    2019-04-25 01:31

    This book really wants us to feel sympathy for the main character, Howie, and all of his pent-up angers and frustrations at being a crippled, mute, middle-aged veteran in a world full of young, beautiful, talking people. This book really wants us to feel for his struggling attempts to connect with the young boy foisted off into his care by his passive-aggressive, drug-addicted ex-girlfriend who is forced into rehab by her sister.But we can't all get what we want, and despite the book's valiant attempts to make Howie into some kind of relatable hero, I just couldn't bring myself to sympathize with or even like him. Despite years of living an independent and mature (though admittedly sterile) lifestyle, the moment his life is shaken up, he regresses into a child-man who makes decisions based on pride and impulse and who throws destructive (and even violent) temper tantrums. And how many times do we need to hear about what's happening in his pants, really? I had to force myself through the second half, mainly skimming, and that only because it had been lent to me by a friend and I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt.The minor characters were slightly more likeable, but there was far too much time spent on Howie's ex-girlfriend Sylvia, whose presence in any scene was the equivalent of nails on chalkboard. I could not at all sympathize with Howie during moments when he actually fantasized about building a life with this poisonous emotional train-wreck.On top of that, the story moved very slowly and the first 70 pages felt twice as long as they actually were. I tend to prefer stories with a more active plot, though your mileage may vary. I have never been a fan of what my husband calls "broken vase" stories--where all the characters are emotionally stunted, maladjusted and/or immature and the story is all about their failed attempts to relate to one another in any meaningful way. This book reminded me why.

  • Lane
    2019-04-20 03:41

    I was under pressure to find a book for a trip and I picked this up at a used bookstore. Really had my doubts, but was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.The author did a wonderful job of showing how love for a child can become a truly powerful force, and also how it can develop without one's permission. I really felt for Howard as he struggled with his condition and I was rooting for him throughout the story. (I'm in the Vietnam generation and know and know of many people, mostly guys, whose lives were negatively affected by that disastrous war...uh, extended military engagement. My brother-in-law died from complications from Agent Orange.) That the boy was caught in the middle seems horribly typical in our society, and from our lofty distance as readers we could see so many times when the adults behaved worse than children (again, probably pretty typical).****Tiny SPOILER Alert****Still, the ending was satisfying: not perfect, not sappy-sweet, but fairly realistic based on the story as presented. I liked the book enough that I'm considering suggesting it for my book club.PS - For what it's worth, I have NO earthly idea why the author decided to call that big berm the Ha-Ha. The nun's explanation didn't do it for me and this was the most aggravating aspect of the book for me. Just found it unnecessarily goofy/gratuitous.

  • Susan Miller
    2019-04-08 21:40

    A narration from the mind of a Vietnam veteran that returns state side unable to speak. After being wounded Howard looks fine, but his life is altered with a large scar and the inability to speak coherently.Howard's old girlfriend is an addict who goes in for treatment and asks Howard to take care of her nice year old son, Ryan.Ryan adapts to his new surroundings and Howie's method of communicating. The two grow close over the course of weeks. Until Sylvia gets released.

  • Jane Petermeier
    2019-04-24 23:21

    I couldn't even remember why this book was on my TBR list, but I am glad it was. Howie, the protaganist, is mute...due to a war injury. This story is a snippet from his current life, years after the injury. Howie might not speak, but as he "notes" he is of normal intelligence and most certainly of normal emotions! (what a great reminder!) This is a debut novel from this author and!

  • Candace Benjamin
    2019-04-22 02:38

    It was a sweet book about the love of Howie Kappstash, an injured Vietnam vet, for a neglected boy given up to his care while his mother, the vetshigh school sweetheart undergoes rehab. The book scared me because Howie had some dark periods but love triumphs.