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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  433 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
From the author of the acclaimed Burke series comes a sharply affecting new novel about a group of outcasts who undertake a “mission” to save a schizophrenic’s hidden treasure.
When his most beloved student dies as a result of what he believes to be his misguidance, Ho renounces his position as a revered sensei, abandons his dojo and all of his possessions, and embarks on
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published January 1st 2009)
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Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Andrew Vachss' expressive prose leads us into a private, underground world, where families form by choice, and grow into healing, rather than the destruction and chaos that may mark a family-of-origin. Throughout the story, his warrior's code is clearly expressed, as is his poet's heart. At least I presume he has these things, I hear it in the voice of all of his books. I often wish I could slow down and savor Vachss' books, however, that's not in the cards for me ... I have a need to ...more
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vachss' novels can always be read as works of the genre of crime fiction. And as such they're all quite good.
However, that reading will miss what I find so amazing about Vachss' work. These aren't simple explorations into the dark side. We don't follow where he leads just to look at the freaks ... if you try you'll get lost along the way as he will leave you behind without a second glance. We can see ourselves. Our incomplete, damaged selves in these people. We travel these dark places not for s
Mike Kazmierczak
I believe that this is the first Andrew Vachss book that I read since he finished his Burke series. Not that there was any expectation he would, but Vachss has not lost any skills. His words are terse but loaded with meaning. He sets the scene with minimal descriptions but quickly illustrates what we should see. He gives us characters who are complex and reveal themselves slowly. Together they illustrate a side of New York City that I reckon most never see. And for those of us nowhere near New Y ...more
Tim Niland
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
After his amazing Burke series of crime fiction, many fans wondered what Vachss could do as an encore. The answer turns out to be more of the same, with new characters while still keeping the streetwise zeitgeist that made the Burke novels so effective. Ho was a sensei, a master of the martial arts who ran his own dojo and had a large number of adoring students. When his advice to a student unwittingly leads to her brutal murder, he is overcome by guilt and shame. Closing his dojo and renouncing ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Mr Vachss has considerable experience with the dark side of life in this universe, I felt like I was somewhere else when reading this book. And that's a good thing because, as my Metro stop drew closer, I found myself hoping the train would slow down (I do quite a bit of reading on my commute) so I could spend more time in a universe that felt like it was a minor frequency apart from reality.
For those of you who are familiar with the Burke series, you will not be disappointed.
Now le
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I checked this book out and began reading, I was under the impression that I was getting myself into a well written mystery. The book appeared on a "can't miss mystery and thriller" list I subscribe to through the public library.

What I found in the pages of this book is a wandering meditation on the nature of honor and talent, told in wonderful voice, without much of a purpose. Ho's narration - and the dialogue amongst the rest of his homeless "family" - captures his character very nicely,
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unnamed sensei leaves his dojo behind to live on the streets after a young student is murdered. He had told her she was ready to take on her enemies, but little did he know Chica's reality. He meets a band of street living veterans and becomes their mentor. They call him Ho, for Ho Chi Minh, even though he is Japanese. Everyone in this group is deeply damaged: Mchael, a stock broker, who lost it all by gambling; Lamont, a former gang member turned celebrity poet; Brewster, an explosive psycho ...more
Tina Dalton
Jul 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Haiku tells the story of a group of homeless men who have found a family with each other: a Vietnam vet, a former Wall Street guru, a schizophrenic, a gangster, a martial arts master and an insane man. The book is very harsh, dealing with the realities of street life in NYC. It is also written in short snippets, which I found a bit disconcerting. It was a challenging book to read on more than one level, but I do feel that I gained something from it. Not sure I'd recommend it.
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I read this book but it's one of my favorite books that's written in first person POV. I loved it and everything that the book stood for. It was just a band of homeless men but you learned so much from who they were, who they are in the story and who they become during it. It's not a hard read either but it is thought provoking all the same.
Steve Larson
Pretty much standard fare for Vachss which is to say it was very good. A look into a shadow world largely unseen by most civilians.
Apr 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Not my style
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book seemed to be written without chapters -for whatever reason and this reader disliked. A reader had to have at least some knowledge of homeless, street slang, empathy to get through the book. I would not be interested in reading any forthcoming sequel, but the content of the book was just above average thus a #3.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Carlos Daniel Bermúdez Pinzón
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Michael
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read my first book by Andrew Vachss when a friend of my wife's was giving away paperbacks he had read and no longer needed. That was Blossom, one of Vachss's "Burke Series". I was blown away by the raw violence and the gritty, street-level view of American city life. Across 2006 and 2007, I read 5 or 6 of the other books in the Burke series as I saw them at the library. Vachss, along with Neil Gaimin, helped me see the full range of what could be expressed with the written word.

Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Vachss has an incredible ability to pluck me out of my life and transport me into a different world. Through his books he has taken me places that I feared, places I did not know existed, dangerous places, fantastic places, places I would never want to go and places too close for comfort. His ability to paint the worlds so vividly is just one of the reasons that make me come back to his books time and time again.

In Haiku the place is the streets, the home by choice for some and by circums
Aaron Broadwell
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't familiar with Vachss before, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this. (And I recommend the audio version from Brilliance Audio for nice voice work.)

This initially seems to be a heist book involving a gang of homeless men in NYC. The narrator is the group's leader -- a Japanese martial arts teacher (Ho) who gave up his dojo after inadvertently causing the death of a favorite student. What is touching is the way in which Ho makes these men into a kind of family, and the patient ways i
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really very different from the usual novel about a group of homeless men, each damaged and discarded by society as well as their own demons. One of the group happens to witness someone in a white Rolls Royce dump something heavy into the river. He believes that this inofrmation may lead to desperately needed money.

But this is really a red herring to lure you into caring for the 4 homeless men. One of them named Brewster has a hidden stash of old paperbacks- his "library" in a delapidated old b
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up a bunch of books at the library, and I read this one the first day. Author Vachss may be an aquired taste, but I like all his novels, especially the Burke books (favorite out of 15 or so is Down in the Zero). I believe some would say they're realistic, others that they are pure fantasies, nihilistic, and a little insane. In Haiku, as in all the Burke books, the characters are all doomed on page one. In this book they're all homeless, each character somewhere along the scale of derang ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really just didn't get into the book, despite being intrigued by reading the back cover. I don't like the use of the word faggot- it does not matter if you are homeless or not- homophobia is never okay. I didn't like in the descriptions of ninja training that they only use male pronouns when speaking generally, despite inclusion of several female ninja students. I got that it was a mystery but couldn't follow it at all. I got to the end and still have no idea what exactly happened. I don't kno ...more
David Ward
Haiku by Andrew Vachss (Pantheon Books 2009)(Fiction - Mystery) is the first book I've read by this author outside of the mysteries / thrillers of the Burke series. I was aware that he had also written a number of stand-alone novels. This is the first of those that I tried, and I did not care for it. This novel follows the same formula as the Burke series. Instead of a hard-boiled private-eye who solves crimes with a bunch of distinctive homeless sidekicks, Haiku is a novel about a hard-boiled C ...more
Neil McCrea
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
I've long been an Andrew Vachss fan, largely on the strength of his prose style. It's tight, stripped to the bone, and unmistakable. That said, reading Vachss has also been a frustrating experience for me. In the last 10+ years he has been strongly tied to a formula, to his credit it has largely been a formula of his own creation, but it is a formula nonetheless.

Haiku manages to break this formula, and I'm grateful. So grateful I may have given it an extra star. The novel is far from perfect, b
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an unusual story about a group of homeless men who come together to help each other. Brewster, one of the men, has been collecting his own library of books and the building he houses them in is set to be destroyed. Each of his friends uses his resources and knowledge to help the rescue of his library.

The story is told by Ho, an elderly Japanese martial artist who has found his way to the streets through an unusual path of tragedy and self-loathing. I got hooked on this book when he start
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-boiled, reviewed
I read this because it's Andrew Vachss, and I was not disappointed. The plot was hardly the point of this book. It was just an interesting series of situations that showcased the characters, an unlikely "band of brothers", and their particular difficulties. However, the redemption at the end was particularly satisfying. It is a book well worth reading if you are at all interested in character development and themes of family. If you are looking for a typical mystery or crime fiction novel, you w ...more
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved the story of these men. i loved the characters Vachss created. and i loved his writing - it reminded me a bit of Jonathan Lethem. so why not five stars? good question.

it would have gotten five stars except for the self-indulgence of the chapter that describes Ho's past - his fall from grace so to speak. the author seemed -in describing Ho's story- to fall prey to the hubris he accuses his character of. in proclaiming how Ho has learned to be humble, he seems to brag. it just didn't ring
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing, dark, and sad. A story of a friendship and loyalty of a group of homeless individuals forming their own family. Their mission to save the library collection of books collected by one of their own. It is also the telling of the life story of Ho, and his his creation of his life's Haiku.

I picked this book up at a sale thinking it was a mystery, yet I found it the story totally intriguing, I had to finish it.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was OK. I listened to this on an audio book, and the main character is Japanese, and reader faked a Japanese accent the whole time. It was a little grating.

The story itself was different, and each of the characters was a Character, but I was hoping for a little more REASON for everything turning out the way it did at the end. The climax happened, then all of a sudden, everyone changed. The only person I thought it made sense for was Ranger, so that character was played out well.
Bobbi Taniguchi
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting tale about humanity and psychology.

The main character is a Japanese dojo master who becomes homeless through choice. Gradually he redeems himself from past mistakes, and in the process redeems several homeless men. Interesting look into the homeless world, though I haven't the experience necessary to determine accuracy. Nevertheless, a great read for those of us who like to look into the minds of others to see how they work.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this strange little book about a bunch of homeless guys (including a former Sensei) who try to figure out how to save the 4,000 volume library of one of the guys before the dumpy warehouse where he keeps it (the library) is razed. The Sensei can be a bit pedantic, but the other homeless guys are fascinating characters indeed. I also probably liked it because it was about a library.
John Grazide
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as tightly written as other books by this author, but the truth flows. When a line grabs you and stops you dead, that's something. All the books I've read by Vachss have had that. Some so tightly written that paused were necessary to allow the words to be unwound and absorbed, and some sneak up on you when you are least expecting it.
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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 youths exclusively. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, two collections of short stories, and a wide varie ...more
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“Fear is an enemy that can be killed only at close range. The closest range of all is intimacy. The deeper the fear is embedded in one’s spirit, the more vulnerable it is.” 21 likes
“Perfection cannot be achieved by men," he told me. "Our highest calling is the pursuit of perfection. My haiku will be finished when I die, but it will never be perfect.” 5 likes
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