Ex musician, assembly line worker and alcoholic, John Coleman Sr. is a man with deferred and shattered dreams. Living in a Chicago housing project during the 60’s he is a father raising his eight-member family; four girls, two musical prodigy boys and a mentally unstable wife, in a drug, gang and gun infested environment among households with absent dads. During a competitive time of young musical prodigies, he fights for a pathway out of the projects through his talented sons. On a quest to find a way out, he drags his gifted boys on a whirlwind journey of hope, from talent shows to south side Blues clubs and observes their reputation growing with each performance. But along with the journey to see his boys “get great”, is his ongoing struggle with alcohol, his wife’s neurotic behavior and the fortified barrier of resentment from his jealous daughters all brought on by a family history of mental illness. Not only does John Coleman Sr. have to contend with the inner turmoil of his family, but a family tragedy shakes him to the core and threatens the sanctity of his high-spirited loved ones.
The ‘GREAT’ Kickin’ Dog is a Black experience during a turbulent time of civil rights in the 6o’s and free spirits of the 70’s embedded in the cradle of Chicago’s segregation. It is a coming-of-age saga of passion, perseverance and the courage to rise above; a compelling story of hope and the question of fate.
A must-read captivating family saga.
The ‘GREAT’ Kickin’ Dog: a family tree by Kenneth Crutchfield is a superbly written and richly descriptive novel with brilliantly drawn characters and settings. The threads of storytelling are so expertly woven in this family drama that it guarantees the attention of the reader. Skillfully constructed and set against the backdrop of the housing projects on the south side of Chicago, this enthralling emotionally charged drama had me turning the pages from beginning to end.
There’s no doubt that The ‘GREAT’ Kickin’ Dog is an exceptionally well written book. The contrast between tone and content is a characteristic talent of only a few authors. Crutchfield pays as much attention to his sentences as he does to his plots, shifting or consolidating meaning with the use of a single word. His writing is impeccably honed, full of juxtapositions and qualifications that help to create an authentic atmosphere throughout.
Above all else, The ‘GREAT’ Kickin’ Dog gives us great insight to the push and pull of familial bonds. Thanks to exemplary work by Kenneth Crutchfield, that exploration of the home feels vital and vivid, never mundane. If you are looking for a well-written family saga with amazing characters and a gripping plot then this book will not leave you disappointed. An accomplished playwright, this first novel is loosely based on the authors own family. Highly recommended.
Kenneth Crutchfield was born on the south side of Chicago into a family of musicians. During his formative years he worked as a professional drummer in Chicago then traveled globally after finishing high school. He received a Bachelors degree from the University of Southern California and a Masters degree from Queens College (CUNY) in New York City, both in music. He has written several plays, The Great Kickin’dog, Balloon on a String and Lorna’s L’Elegant Lounge; two musicals, All God’s Saints Go To Heaven-Not and Bones Brothers Brothel. All were produced in New York City as well as nationally. Ken is also a writer of prose and pens poetry as well. The ‘Great’ Kickin’dog’ is his first novel, loosely based on his family.