!Click Song (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
“Who is that nigger?” is the unspoken question that haunts Cato Douglass, the protagonist and narrator of !Click Song, as he seeks to pursue a writing career and live undisturbed with his wife (who happens to be white) and his sons. This question does not merely reflect paranoia (of which Cato has his share); he really does have much to complain about in his treatment as a writer and as a black man.
!Click Song, named after a form of language surviving in African songs and in the conversation of some American blacks as a type of private communication, thoroughly details the struggles of the black American writer. The author of nine novels, John A. Williams clearly knows whereof he writes: the difficulties of getting published, reviewed, sold, read; the burden (familiar to all modern writers) of teaching college to support oneself while writing; the rivalries between writers who are friends; the conflicts between writing and allowing time for loved ones. Some of these problems are resolved more happily than others, yet Cato will not give in or give up, persevering in his writing and in his belief in himself. Others in the world of this novel are not so lucky. One black poet gains fame and acclaim only posthumously, after drinking himself to death. Another brilliant black writer dies a heroin addict, out of despair at not getting...
(The entire section is 1169 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Choice. XIX, July/August, 1982, p. 1563.
Library Journal. CVII, February 15, 1982, p. 476.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 9, 1982, p. 10.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, April 19, 1982, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXI, February 19, 1982, p. 59.
Saturday Review. IX, April, 1982, p. 60.
Time. CXIX, April 12, 1982, p. 73.
West Coast Review of Books. VIII, May, 1982, p. 23.
(The entire section is 48 words.)