Deacon King Kong ~ by James McBride

Hilarious and lovely.  The 60-something year old Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, aka Sportcoat, of Five Ends Baptist Church and the Causes Housing Projects in Brooklyn, shoots and then appears to sexually assault the young community drug lord, Deems. This happens openly, in the presence of many witnesses. The police arrive and begin to apprehend the guy they think is the culprit while Sportcoat walks quietly away.  Deems’ ear was shot off. He was not shot dead.  

Deacon King Kong
By James McBride
2020 /
Read by Dominic Hoffman 14h 5m
Rating: 9.25 / 21st cent fiction


Sportcoat has problems. Hettie, his wife of 40 years, has been dead for 2 years, but Sportcoat talks to her quite a lot, especially about her old Christmas fund which has been missing now for at least a year.  And Sportscoat drinks and gardens and visits with people.  

The Christmas fund is the money collected from and saved for the church people so they’ll be able to buy gifts for their children at Christmas. It’s important to the people of the church and project.  And Hettie, Sportcoat’s late wife, was the highly trusted keeper of it.  

Sportcoat’s neighbors in the projects are Black, Italian, Latino and a few other groups with some Irish police patrolling. A black portrait of Jesus hangs near the church with an Irish blessing underneath. The smell of Italian cooking permeates the building.     

Baseball, numbers running, drugs, smuggling and gossip are major occupations of the community.  

Chapter 15 is especially powerful where Sister Gee confronts (Police Sergeant) Potts and lectures him about why the church money matters.  

The magic thing is that it seems everyone’s lives are intertwined so from the time the Deacon shoots Deems we see how that act affects virtually the entire community.  And so too, love which is as pervasive as weeds amidst the poverty and sickness and rats.

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