I was completely unprepared for this story.
It begins when recently-widowed, 71-year old Deacon Cuffy Lambkin AKA “Sportcoat” shoots ruthless drug dealer Deems Clemens in the courtyard of their South Brooklyn project in 1969 in broad daylight with plenty of witnesses.
What follows is a deeply compelling story of love, faith, redemption, and what it means to be part of a community.
“Sportcoat was a walking genius, a human disaster, a sod, a medical miracle, and the greatest baseball umpire that the Cause Houses had ever seen, in addition to serving as coach and founder of the All-Cause Boys Baseball Team. He was a wondrous handyman to the residents of the Causes Houses, the guy you called when your cat took a dump and left a little piece of poop hooked in his duff, because Sportcoat was an old country man and nothing would turn him away from God’s good purpose. “James McBride, Deacon King Kong
A large cast of characters helps tell the story. There’s an Italian mobster, a veteran cop who witnesses the shooting, nosy church ladies from the Five Ends Baptist Church, drug dealers, and the story is full of fun names like Hot Sausage, Bum-Bum, Pudgy Fingers, and of course, the main character Sportcoat who is originally from the fictional Possum Point, South Carolina. (I love it when my home state gets some ink!)
Legendary author and musician James McBride has written, what I think, will be one of my favorite books of 2020.
Have you read Deacon King Kong? I’d love to hear your thoughts!