Peel back the made-for-TV-movie premise of Dave King's The Ha-Ha and you'll find a shrewd, engrossing, and occasionally gritty first novel in the tradition of Jane Smiley. Howard is a brain-damaged Vietnam vet who can't speak or write, but who has managed to establish a reasonably good life in... show more
Peel back the made-for-TV-movie premise of Dave King's The Ha-Ha and you'll find a shrewd, engrossing, and occasionally gritty first novel in the tradition of Jane Smiley. Howard is a brain-damaged Vietnam vet who can't speak or write, but who has managed to establish a reasonably good life in his small Midwestern hometown. In fact, Howard's chief limitation isn't his silence but his lingering romantic attachment to his high school girlfriend, Sylvia, now the drug-addicted single mother of a nine-year-old boy named Ryan (not Howard's child). Accustomed to Howard's devotion--and equally accustomed to rejecting his love, like a campfire she pees on again and again--Sylvia more or less dumps Ryan on him when she is forced to enter rehab. Yes, the handicapped vet must forge a relationship with the sullen fatherless boy. With material as Hallmark-tinged like this, it's only through vivid, honest, and far from syrupy characterization that King keeps sentimentality at bay.You can predict what happens when the gruff Howard begins to coach Little League (aw, shucks), but not his ferocious reaction to Sylvia's eventual betrayal.A skillful debut with several surprises. --Regina Marler
Publish date: March 6th 2006
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Pages no: 368
Edition language: English
, Book Club
, Adult Fiction
, Literary Fiction
This book was one of those "Daily Deals" on Kindle but I thought I'd check my library first. I'm so glad I got it from the library because my Kindle list is huge and not going down so it probably would have been over a year before I read it. Fantastic book. Howard came back from Vietnam after onl...
Between the back cover text, and the cover image, I had rather the wrong idea about the novel: include The Ha-Ha and it feels positively pastoral. It isn't, but it's a good book all the same.Howie isn't likable, exactly, but you do want him to succeed, and given the first half, it isn't as predictab...
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 ...