Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Ha-Ha by Dave King

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 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.

I grabbed this audiobook at the library one day when I was in a hurry and just needed something playing in the car on a trip.  I lucked out.  What I got was very different from what I normally read and from what I expected.  

The story covers a very narrow window of time and place - 8 weeks in the limited world of Howard Kapostash - but it covers a wide expanse of emotion and ideas.  Hearing this story from the viewpoint of a man who can not communicate beyond a few basic hand gestures was frustrating - so much so that at times I was tempted to hit eject and move on to something happier.  But it was also intriguing.  Imagine life without ever being able to explain yourself. . . Howard could point to what he wanted on a menu, or tap his watch to indicate he needed to hurry, but he couldn't tell anyone why he was in a hurry.  He couldn't tell anyone how he felt about them, or why he was angry, or what had happened to him in Viet Nam.  When people misjudged him, or used him or assumed they knew what he was thinking, he couldn't correct them.  He couldn't stand up for himself.  

The interview with the author at the end of the audio version added some insight that you wouldn't get from reading the book, so I recommend that, if you chose to read rather than listen, you also read this interview with the author from Book Browse - but not till the end.

This is not an easy read, but it made a subtle change in the way I look at others - What is there in their life that I don't know and they can't tell me?  


  1. Nice review, Tami. This book has been on my to-be-read shelf for such a long time. I've heard good things, but up until now I haven't been compelled enough to read it. However, after reading this, I'm going to find it and move it up closer to the top. Thanks!

  2. Sounds interesting! Good review.

  3. I'll have to check this out; I would find it a fascinating read I think

    thanks for the review!


  4. I love your take away from this book. Any story that can expand our vision and understanding of others is a worthwhile read!