Click here to read reviewer Sandie Kirkland's take on Haiku.
Vachss is a well-oiled machine, each novel honed to its essential message - never an easy one, but always informative. Reflecting society through a mirror, this author tackles the ugly side of life, the teeming underbelly of society where he finds simplicity and sometimes beauty.
Haiku goes to the heart of daily existence without the pretensions that protect us from reality and the violence that pervades every layer of modern life. Behind the curtain in the Emerald City there is a group of characters, each a carefully blended part of the whole, all misfits who have found a home, at least temporarily.
Ho, a sensei - in search of his former self before getting infected by the disease of “humble arrogance” and its tragic consequences - is the putative leader of the group, these misfits and rejects who live on the fringes and fade into the night, the men people stare through as though they don’t exist: “Listening is how I have learned to see the world.” The homeless, the broken, the damaged.
While Ho seeks atonement, the others gather as though magnetized: Michael, Ranger, Lamont, Target and Brewster, each marked with his own disability, PTSD, addiction or alcoholism, all fallen between the cracks and left there to perish until they bond together. Ho teaches them the way to survive, to get lost in the night, to be invisible to those who might harm them, to avoid the violence of the streets.
With his usual clarity and poignancy, Vachss introduces this ragtag band of brothers of the streets brought together on a mission on behalf of one of them, Baxter. Culling the best from each of his damaged soldiers, Ho guides the men to the ultimate resolution, a grand gesture to the threatened one to prove that he is not alone.
With Ho as interpreter, each individual communicates with the others until a feasible plot is hatched, all activities below the radar of everyday life. Vachss speaks the language of the street, the common denominator of social rejects adapting to that dark netherworld where survival is minimal and life fragile, the disenfranchised ever at risk. That which was lost is found in a journey that is both profound and moving.