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Deacon King Kong

Deacon King Kong

A Novel

Large Print - 2020
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"In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .45 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range. The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride's funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood's Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself. As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters--caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York--overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion. Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: [New York] : Random House Large Print, [2020]
Edition: First large print edition
ISBN: 9780593171837
Characteristics: 507 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
large print,rdamat


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Jun 16, 2021

As I read this book I felt like I was sitting in a comfortable chair listening to someone telling stories about the place he grew up, with a melting pot of people and places one can only imagine. It took me three weeks to finish this book. Each chapter was like a short story where James McBride introduced me to the characters, the place, the time, the type of dirt on the floor, the painting on the wall and the ants (yep there's a chapter where we meet the ants). He interjected a lot of humor throughout which was a good mix with a lot of sad moments. My copy is a Diverse Book Club Pick for Target. In the Dear Target Reader section the author wrote, "Deacon King Kong is a novel that takes me back to where I grew up: Brooklyn, New York. I hope you enjoy Deacon King Kong and that it makes you laugh. I also hope it makes you see the people around you in different ways than you did before." It did and I do.

Mar 04, 2021

Very different, well written story. I really enjoyed reading this book.

Feb 17, 2021

Rec by Diane Feb 2021

Jan 23, 2021

Obama book

JCLChrisK Dec 23, 2020

This is a sort of love letter to a few blocks of New York City projects in 1969, and to the endearing cast of colorful characters brimming with personality. McBride has a magical touch bringing to life the adage everyone has a story. His descriptions are vivid, engrossing, and entertaining, giving both people and setting depth and truth. His dialogue, as well. It's a hard setting full of people living hard, flawed lives. McBride never ducks the grit and grime, violence and suffering, yet still manages to find some measure of joy and an abundance of humor. He paints a breathing portrait of "the least" of society, and he loves them.

"Deacon Cuffy Lambkin of Five Ends Baptist Church became a walking dead man on a cloudy September afternoon in 1969. That's the day the old deacon, known as Sportcoat to his friends, marched out to the plaza of the Causeway Housing Projects in South Brooklyn, stuck an ancient .38 Colt in the face of a nineteen-year-old drug dealer named Deems Clemens, and pulled the trigger."

That opening paragraph sets off a complex web of events. Sportcoat is the old neighborhood drunk. He's a bumbling fool, a handyman, a beloved teacher and coach, and a widower who constantly stumbles around having conversations with his dead wife. He was so drunk when he shot Deems he doesn't even remember doing it. Deems was a rising baseball star who's become a rising star dealer. He's part of a new generation selling the new drug Heroin that's taking over the city. That one gunshot sends repercussions rippling through their neighborhood and wider connections. Sportcoat's friends and the old guard from his church. Deems' bosses and suppliers, smugglers and mobsters. Police. The neighborhood is changing from what it used to be, and this one act is a catalyst sending all the competing players and forces into motion.

Nov 16, 2020

This book is funny and poignant at the same time. Very colorful characters. You can really feel their plight.

Peggy Hendry
Sep 14, 2020

Deacon King Kong was my introduction to James McBride, and I am now binge-reading everything he's written. Since I don't ordinarily read literary fiction, that says a lot about McBride's skill as a writer.

I rooted for his characters despite the behaviors some of them resort to in order to survive the poverty and racism in which they live. Bond with a lifelong drunk? Understand a drug dealer? Not easy for me, but McBride made them people I could identify with despite my privileged, white life.

McBride's ability to bring characters to life, not only on the page, but in my heart, and his portrayal of how prejudices and the constraints of social norms can be overcome by enough love, make this book an absolute page-turner.

Aug 04, 2020

Poignant, laugh-out-loud hilarious and heartbreaking-and that’s the emotive turn contained on just one page of ‘Deacon King Kong.’ Set at the end of the tumultuous 60’s, ‘Deacon’ gives us the far-ranging story of a community in transition. Folks residing in the Causeway Housing Projects in south Brooklyn don’t have much, don’t expect much and have become a close-knit group that watches with growing wariness the increasing drug activity conducted by Deems, a one-time project kid and promising baseball prospect who chose a different path.
Enter Sportcoat, an elderly and usually intoxicated deacon of Five Ends Baptist Church and the former coach and mentor to Deems, who Sportcoat shoots at point-blank range.
The aftermath of the shooting makes up a story that brings to life an assortment of memorable characters and their struggles in the projects, all taking place in the shadow of NYC’s wealth and success.
‘Deacon King Kong’ is a wonderful story that will fill your heart.

Jul 15, 2020

Old-fashioned, heart-warming, gently and sometimes LOL humourous - Deacon King Kong is a story about community - how it supports and sustains, how it builds trust, how people of different races and faiths can pull together to help one another, treating each other as human beings. It’s not all positive, but it offers hope. Best book of 2020 so far.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jul 09, 2020

Soooo good. Set in 1969 in New York...this one has a great mosaic of interwoven narratives that all come together at the end. Super funny, but with a serious point to make.

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