Books: Moving Beyond Words

In a very fine debut novel, a man who cannot speak intelligibly tries to connect to a boy in distress

Howie Kapostash is an alert man with a nuanced awareness of things. He enjoys the increments of summer sunlight or the nice construction of a simple lunch box. He also spots the looks that pass between people when they notice his forehead. A Vietnam War injury has left him with a deep indentation in his skull and a messy plug of scar tissue. The wound has all but deprived him of the power of speech. Anytime he tries to talk, the best he can do is bark out one or two syllables. "I gave up explaining years ago," he says, in...

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