'The Ha-Ha': A Novel Explores the Wounds of War

Detail from cover of 'The Ha Ha'

Cover of Dave King's novel The Ha-Ha hide caption

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Author Dave King discusses his first novel, The Ha-Ha, about a man who loses his ability to speak when he is injured in Vietnam.

The head injury Howie Kapostash suffered leaves him unable to speak, read or write. Thirty years later, he works as a gardener at a convent and lives in his old childhood home, where he rents rooms to virtual strangers.

Howie's closest friend is his old high school sweetheart, Sylvia, who usually has no use for him. Until one day, she has to check herself into a drug rehabilition program, and needs somewhere to park her nine-year-old son, Ryan. The relationship that Howie develops with Ryan, and how he reconnects to the world, is at the heart of the novel.

King, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is also a painter, holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. He joins us to discuss his novel and his life before publishing his debut novel at age 48.

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