King, Dave 1955-
KING, Dave 1955-
PERSONAL: Born 1955, in CT. Education: Cooper Union, B.F.A.; Columbia University, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—Susan Golomb Literary Agency, 875 6th Ave., New York, NY 10001.
CAREER: Poet and novelist. Has also worked as a painter and founder of Dynaflow Studios, Inc. (decorative painting firm).
The Ha-Ha, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
The Ha-Ha has been translated into Hebrew, Japanese, German, and Korean.
Also contributor to Paris Review and Big City Lit.
ADAPTATIONS: The Ha-Ha was adapted as audio-books by Time Warner (abridged) and by Recorded Books (unabridged), both 2005. Film rights have been bought by Warner Bros. Pictures.
SIDELIGHTS: "I started out as a painter," Dave King told Dave Weich in an interview for Powells.com. "I dabbled in film. Following my creative bliss ultimately led me to writing." At one point, King rewrote his first book, The Ha-Ha, in iambic pentameter before settling on the novel form. "I don't consider myself a mature poet; I'm still learning a lot," he told Weich. "But I would like at some point to write a long verse work. It's likely that at some point I'll take the thing I'm working on now and try again. Ultimately this time I went back to the prose."
The Ha-Ha is about a brain-damaged Vietnam War veteran who is befriended by a nine-year-old boy. Howard Kapostash, who cannot read, write, or speak but has otherwise normal intelligence, works as a groundskeeper. In his narrator, he tells the story of his life when Sylvia, his high school love, leaves her son Ryan with him so she can undergo drug rehab. Howard and Ryan are skeptical of each other at first, and Ryan initially believes that Howard may be retarded. Eventually they form a bond of friendship and understanding that leads to Howard's impossible fantasies about a future as part of a family. In an interview with Library Journal contributor Barbara Hoffert, King explained that a ha-ha is "a sunken fence used to contain livestock without interrupting the view." King went on to say, "The goal is to create an optical illusion so the land appears to roll on continuously, with no evidence of this concealed rift.
In the novel, there's an actual ha-ha, but the symbolic relevance is the presence of a huge unaddressed fissure—the injury—in the landscape of Howard's life."
"To King's credit, the relationship between [Howard and Ryan] … never lapses into gauzy magazine togetherness," asserted Barbara Liss in the Houston Chronicle. Liss also noted King's "entertaining descriptions of the small triumphs and … mistakes of a man reaching out to the world." MBR Bookwatch contributor Harriet Klausner commented that although at times the novel "seems too obvious and expected, readers will not care as Dave King provides a deep look at the importance of having a reason to live not just exist." Deborah Donovan, writing in Booklist, called The Ha-Ha a "compelling, compassionate debut," while Time critic Richard Lacayo called it "a very skilled first novel, a book full of deep feeling rendered with light, sure strokes. It's also one more variation, but a lovely one, on a very old story form, the sensitive heart trapped in a monster's body."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of The Ha-Ha, p. 637.
Boston Globe, January 23, 2005, Robin Daugherty, interview with King.
Chicago Tribune, January 9, 2005, John McNally, review of The Ha-Ha.
Houston Chronicle, January 28, 2005, Barbara Liss, review of The Ha-Ha.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Ha-Ha, p. 825.
Library Journal, November 1, 2004, Jim Coan, review of The Ha-Ha, p. 75; November 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, "Q & A: Dave King," p. 74.
MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of The Ha-Ha.
New York Times Book Review, January 23, 2005, Mark Kamine, review of The Ha-Ha, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 2004, Karen Holt, "Dave King: The Ha-Ha," p. 127.
Time, January 31, 2005, Richard Lacayo, review of The Ha-Ha, p. 70.
Powells.com, http://www.powells.com/ (May 17, 2005), Dave Weich, "Dave King Speaks."
Reviewsofbooks.com, http://www.reviewsofbooks.com/ (May 17, 2005), W.R. Greer, review of The Ha-Ha.