Episode 50 - James McBride
James McBride's Deacon King Kong made me laugh out loud. I can't remember the last time that happened while I was reading.
Talking to James was just as much fun. This was his second appearance on ReadMore. He last came on the show in 2017 to discuss his short story collection, Five-Carat Soul.
James, who is also a very accomplished musician, has had an incredibly successful career as a writer. He received a National Book Award for his New York Times best seller, The Good Lord Bird. His memoir, The Color of Water, has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. His latest work, Deacon King Kong, is also a best seller and an Oprah Book Club pick.
The novel is set in 1969 in a housing project in South Brooklyn. It's about Cuffy Lambkin, a faithful deacon at his church who is also a raging alcoholic. Nearly everyone calls him Sportcoat, but a few call him Deacon King Kong. King Kong is the name of his favorite moonshine. One day out of the blue, Sportcoat walks up to a young drug dealer who works in the projects and shoots him in front of several witnesses. The shooting sets off a long chain of events that rock his community and reverberate outside of it as well.
James and I discussed the people he enjoys writing about, his faith, and why the death of Breonna Taylor hit him so hard.
- why he prefers to write about love rather than hate
- the connection between his musicality and his writing
- what he hoped to accomplish by featuring a small, neighborhood church so prominently in the novel
During our interview, James heaped a lot of praise on the writer who's been on our show more than any other. We'll send a free copy of Deacon King Kong to the first person to reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook to tell us the writer's name.
If you have a won a ReadMore giveaway in the last 90 days, you are ineligible for this giveaway. Or, if you and I ever stayed up late discussing books and writing styles after a long day at Antioch, you're probably ineligible. ReadMore does not have a friends and family plan! But we'll always have those beach house memories.