A drug dealer is shot in the Cause Houses housing project in New York in 1969, the gunman an elderly drunk and church deacon who taught him baseball. There is violence, poverty and racism here - but it’s also warm and funny. The story reveals that everybody - blacks, whites, Italians, Spanish, church goers and criminals - are united by a shared history and common humanity and they are all described with humour and affection.
She was coming off her once-a-year sin jamboree, an all-night, two-fisted, booze-guzzling, swig-faced affair of delicious tongue-in-groove licking and love-smacking with her sometimes boyfriend, Hot Sausage, until Sausage withdrew from the festivities for lack of endurance. 'Sister Bibb', he once complained to Sportcoat, 'is a grinder, and I don't mean organ.' She arrived with a pounding headache and a sore shoulder from some kind of tugging from last night's howling bliss. She sat at her organ in a stupor, her head resting on the keys, as the congregation wandered in.