Picks and Pans Review: The Ha-Ha

UPDATED 02/07/2005 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/07/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

By Dave King

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

In the 30 years since a Vietnamese land mine robbed him of the ability to speak, write or read, Howard Kapostash, the narrator of King's first novel, has abandoned any hope for meaningful connection. Speech therapy was awash, so he communicates with gestures, guttural sounds and a business card that reads: "Please remember: I am of normal intelligence!" Howard's routine includes mowing lawns, coexisting with boarders in his childhood home and pining for Sylvia, his high school sweetheart. Sylvia, unfortunately, cares more for cocaine and is being shipped off to rehab, leaving her 9-year-old son Ryan with Howard, the only reliable person she knows.

There are a few Lifetime moments as Howard and his housemates open their hearts to the sullen boy, but this compelling novel is hardly simplistic. Howard may have the heartwarming realization that he can participate in Little League ("for a mime, umpiring might be the world's easiest job"), but his years of severe isolation can also cause him to erupt with frightening violence. At times King overplays Howard's volatility, but in the end he draws a noble portrait of a wounded man.

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters