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Haiku: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 3, 2009

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, November 3, 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307378497
  • ASIN: B005M4Q6Q6
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,328,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vachss, author of the long-running Burke series that concluded with 2008's Another Life, introduces an engaging if damaged new hero in this soulful thriller. Ho, an elderly martial arts teacher who once was the master of a successful dojo, renounces all worldly goods after one of his students dies because of something he said. He takes to the mean streets of an unnamed American city to atone, joining a ragtag group of homeless men: Michael, once a high-flying stockbroker; Ranger, a Vietnam war vet; Lamont, an ex-gang leader and poet; Brewster, a psychotic; and Target, who speaks only in repetitive verbal explosions. A mystery involving a white Rolls Royce emerges early on, but as the book progresses, this plot is abandoned for another concerning Brewster's book collection. Despite compelling prose, the author's failure to follow through on the Rolls Royce business leads to a disappointing conclusion. (Nov.)
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"[Andrew Vachss's] New York . . . is not borrowed from anybody, and it shimmers on the page as gaudily and scarily as it does on the streets."
New York

"Vachss gives such a smooth ride, it is easy to forget someone is driving."
The New York Times Book Review

"Compelling and challenging . . . [Vachss takes us] not simply into the mean streets but into a subterranean nightmare."
The Washington Post Book World

"Vachss's reverence for storytelling is evident in the blunt beauty of his language."
Chicago Sun-Times

"Andrew Vachss continues to write the most provocative novels around."
—Martha Grimes

"Vachss writes with . . . an unerring ear for the language of the streets."
Rocky Mountain News

"The voice of Vachss: uncompromising, exciting, and fiercely original."
—George Pelecanos

"Vachss is a master."
Sacramento Bee

More About the Author

Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for "aggressive-violent" youth. Now a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youth exclusively. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, three collections of short stories, and a wide variety of other material including song lyrics, graphic novels, essays, and a "children's book for adults." His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, Playboy, The New York Times, and many other forums. His books have been awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature Policiére, the Falcon Award, Deutschen Krimi Preis, Die Jury des Bochumer Krimi Archivs and the Raymond Chandler Award (per Giurìa a Noir in Festival, Courmayeur, Italy). Andrew Vachss' latest books are Mortal Lock (Vintage, May 2013) and Aftershock (Pantheon, June 2013). The dedicated Web site for Vachss and his work is vachss.com.

Customer Reviews

It may, in fact, be the single worst book I've ever bothered to finish.
Christopher Healey
It is all just confusing and disjointed, could not understand the novel at all and am just hoping that Mr Vachss' next book (The Weight) is better.
The ability to create such characters of depth, vitality and connection speaks to the power of the writing Mr. Vachss brings to his work.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Vachss is a master of the dark side of humanity, with an affinity for society's underbelly, whether writing about crimes against the helpless or documenting the lives of the disenfranchised. In Haiku, a master sensei is set upon atonement for the crime of "humble arrogance" and its consequences, abandoning a lucrative career in the United States, forging a new identity among the homeless, the invisible. Ho- as he is called by the eccentric individuals who gravitate to him as though to a magnetized field- has become a listener, the hubris of his past life no longer acceptable. Yet these men are drawn to Ho, Michael, Lamont, Ranger, Target and Brewster, because he helps them to remain calm in a dangerous environment. Each man carries his own burden, speaks his own language and seeks to survive below the city's radar.

When the emotional security of one of them is threatened, this odd band of brothers gathers to seek a solution, Ho their putative guide. It is in their exchanges that Vachss reveals his profound understanding of human nature and the various ways men can be broken, yet survive. This is a group that has formed for safety and has become attached, one to another however they might, a family of individuals. As Ho progresses on his journey and the others toward some resolution of their life directions, the city is laid bare, the traps laid for the helpless, the dangers of the streets, existence without identity. Each character is explored, strengths and weaknesses, the nobility of their cause and the violence that occurs as the plan goes forward. This is a view of a world most are unaware of, the subterranean levels of subsistence that exist in every city. Vachss leaves his reader with much to ponder, his work always moving and provocative, a mirror of the world that reflects the invisible, at least for a moment before they fade once more into the night. Luan Gaines/2009.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott R. Morris on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some of the people who have commented on this book clearly don't get it. If you were expecting a re-hash of the Burke novels, you don't really know Vachss. He's a real writer. In other words, he's not just pounding out pulp novels simply to keep the publishers and the people who want another Burke story happy or to keep his wallet fat. He's constantly perfecting his art, and evolving as both a warrior against child abuse and as a writer. Even at this stage in his career, he's not simply resting on his laurels. I loved the Burke novels, but Burke's story, if it believably follows the natural course of the characters' lives, has run its course. Haiku represents not just a new voice, but a new level of Vachss's writing. And, after reading it, I am highly charged by it.

The voice Vachss speaks through in Ho is very different from Burke's, but it is equally well-crafted, authentic, gripping, and believable. This story is as exciting, entertaining, gripping, frightening, and deep as anything that Vachss has ever written. But it is also, in some ways, more powerful -- at least to me. I say that because of the personal connection I made with this book on the first page. The main character is a warrior. Honor is everything to him. But as the book progresses, he also reveals himself to be an amazing therapist, seeking to fulfill his need to live, and ultimately die, honorably by helping others to empower themselves against their overwhelming demons and discover lives worth living. And the "supporting" characters that Ho is helping to transform in their own journeys are each as unique, engaging, well-formed, and fascinating as Ho. As a former Army Ranger and a child therapist, such a book comes with high expectations and hopes. Haiku has met them in spades.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Vachss has done it again. He has captured life on the streets - - the homeless, the dispossessed, the mentally ill - - and has made these disenfranchised people the true heroes of the world. Vachss's vision is a unique one, with a theme that is pervasive throughout his books. He reframes miscreants into heroes and shows real evil where one least expects to find it - - in the ordinary citizen parading as Mr. Good or Mr. Show-off. It is those that we turn away from or that we find invisible or repulsive that Mr. Vachss turns into the super-heroes or saviors of the day. He writes about a cultural underground that many of us have never been privy to, and underground that has its own codes of morality and rule of law, where cities exist in tunnels underneath slums and cultures form based on an unspoken law belonging only to the dispossessed.

HAIKU, Vachss's newest book, fits nicely into his thematic repertoire. Here we find Ho (a nickname short for HO CHI MINH), the leader of a group of homeless me. Ho was once a famous and wealthy marshal arts teacher and dispenser of wisdom. He found himself becoming too grandiose, giving vacuous advice to others and his ego taking over for what should have been a life of humility and learning from others. Because of this, he is responsible for the death of Chica, a young woman who he is mentoring. At first, he is consumed by what he thinks is shame and guilt but later realizes is self-pity. "That same night, I walked away. From the dojo, from my living quarters behind it, from my life." Penniless and alone, Ho makes his way among the tenements and slums of the city, building a secret living area of tunnels below the ground.
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