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    Masterful storytelling

    Deacon King Kong is the first book I have ever read written by author James McBride, but just a page in I knew I was going to love it, and I did. The story starts in September 1969, when Sportcoat, an old drunken church deacon who lost his wife a few years ago but still sees and talks to her, living in one of the New York housing projects, decides one day for some unknown reason to shoot the project’s young drug dealer. At point-blank range and in front of plenty of witnesses. The story just takes off from there. It is difficult to pull together a seemingly mostly unrelated cast of characters, events, background, history into a set of coherent, cohesive stories and then weave those threads into a cohesive novel, but James McBride has done it with what looks like ease. All the side trips to discuss supporting characters and their pasts are just long enough, just tantalizing enough to keep your interest, add to the big picture, and not get off track and become boring or distracting. Deacon King Kong looks at Sportcoat, the witnesses to the shooting and those affected by it, as well as the time, the place, the culture, the society, the turmoil. It’s a satisfyingly close-up look at life in the projects, and life in general, about people who have made choices in life – or who have had life make choices for them. McBride is a masterful storyteller, creating vivid characters and scenarios and a tale that is both funny and moving. Thanks to Penguin Random House for providing an advance copy of Deacon King Kong for my reading pleasure and honest review. All opinions are my own. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and James McBride has become one of my must-read authors.

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