About Deacon King Kong
James McBride wrote “Deacon King Kong” in third-person narration, hopping back and forth between characters. Set in 1960’s New York City, the story begins with an act that makes so sense. The story ends about the same...making no sense.
As the book goes on, you do get the feel of the back story – living in Black New York City. You see the business of dealing or using drugs, getting “stuck” in this life with no way out.
When I reached the halfway point in the book, I realized that I kept picking it up for no other reason other than I had committed to read it in a “reading challenge.” After finishing the story, I still cannot discern the main message. I can pick out several possibilities, but only one that has any sort of closure.
About the story
The basic story begins as the main character (Sportcoat) shoots a drug dealer and sets off a comical series of mishaps that ricochet throughout the book. From undercover cops, to mob bosses, to drug distributors, to preacher’s wives…they all interact in some interesting and improbably ways.
This book received an astonishing number of outstanding reviews – including Oprah and Barack Obama. This does not leave me with much confidence in their tastes in books. But so many recommendations leave me wondering if I wandered off into the twilight zone.
I read enough fiction books that keep me reading to find out where the characters end up and what their lives look like. “Deacon King Kong” had so little character development that I had little or no interest in them. What does Sportcoat like? Other than King Kong (homemade adult beverage) I’m not sure what he wants.
I did find that they book requires so little brain energy that if a reader wants “cotton candy for the brain” (not very filling with no nutritional value) – Deacon King Kong might fit those taste buds.
James McBride has written a number of other books (I have not read any of them so I can’t compare) and I don’t think I will read more of his works.
Nor would I recommend Deacon King Kong. There’s just not enough character or plot development, no closure on the big story lines and too few interesting plots.