Exhibit Cases Six through Ten
This is my favorite of the "early" years. It has more depth the The Angry Ones and Night Song put together. It never had a mass paperback distribution and, overseas, has been published only in Sweden and England.
This novel introduced Ralph Joplin, who also appears in The Junior Bachelor Society, and is mentioned in !Click Song (1982) and Jacob's Ladder (1987). His sister, Iris Joplin Stapleton, was also introduced in Sissie and is mentioned in The Man Who Cried I Am (1967), The Junior Bachelor Society (1976), !Click Song, and Jacob's Ladder.
In England the title was changed because "Sissie" has a specific, negative connotation. It was called Journey Out of Anger, which isn't bad at all.
I can say now that your last two books, NIGHT SONG and SISSIE put you at the very top of all the American Negro writers who have lived."
On the whole, when I wrote these, I was just getting into a good period with the novels and magazine assignments. I felt that my life was starting to come together. 1963 was the year of the big newspaper strike in New York. The result was that TV local news went to thirty minutes and stayed there until it went to an hour and then two hours in the 1970s and 1980s. 1963 was also the year I did my first and only piece for Ebony. I don't believe the magazine has done much on writers and literature since. A part of the Ebony family was The Negro Digest (later Black World), edited by Hoyt Fuller, now dead, so there was no real need, perhaps, for Ebony to do more. But Black World closed down late in the 1970s and nothing has replaced it, so there is a void.
THE PROTECTORS (1964)
At this time I was still one of Roger Straus's authors at Farrar, Straus and Cudahy. Roger tended to weld his authors together in a big family, which is the way I met James Purdy, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Susan Sontag, and Harry J. Anslinger, former Federal Commissioner of Narcotics. Anslinger wanted to do this book, but he couldn't write. I could, and I needed money, as usual. I'd never worked with any kind of cop before, but I found Harry to be very cooperative with his files and chats. He was also fun to be with, since he drank a good martini and told lots of stories. His bodyguard-chauffeur, however, didn't much like me. When Harry wasn't looking, he gave me those cop glances and grimaces. According to Harry, the old narcotics bureau was rather like the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Also, his was the first report I heard about cooperations between the Mafia and the government during WWII, when the feds sought help to prevent pilfering and sabotage on the New York and New Jersey docks.
Williams used the pseudonym "J. Dennis Gregory" for this book.
Williams wrote the introduction for this edition in January 1964.
THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO (1965)
I never liked this title. It isn't mine. I could not think of a title for these Holiday magazine articles that became a book. (Actually, I wrote the book and then let Holiday take what it wished, since the magazine had commissioned me to do 30,000 words in the first place.) The back-to-back articles were published in the magazine in 1964; the book came out a year later. The pieces were like John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie, except, of course, these were from a black writer's point of view. I sent final copy in to the magazine while I was reporting from Africa. My editor, Harry Sions, applied the title without consultation. By the time I returned to the States, four months later, the pieces, together with the art, were already scheduled.
Working for Holiday represented the good days and a lot of traveling, which I then enjoyed, because airports were not like Greyhound bus terminals, and the planes left and arrived on time.
THE MAN WHO CRIED I AM (1967)
I would have to say that this is my best-known book. I don't recall when I began it, but I was working on this book when the march on Selma occurred. I was in New York then, but I also worked on it in Spain and finished it in late summer 1966, while living in Amsterdam.
It was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection, went through at least three paperback cover changes and six printings by New American Library, and was reissued by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1985. It was also published by Quality Paperback Book Club, a branch of BOMC, in 1994. The most recent edition was brought out in 2004 by Overlook Press.
Abroad, it was published in the Netherlands, England, and France.
SONS OF DARKNESS, SONS OF LIGHT (1968)
This wasn't such a hot novel, but it got good play because it was published during the time of the "long, hot summers." It is a fast read, right up with the times and I hope somewhat prophetic. I did a bad screenplay for this, but the film was never made.
THE KING GOD DIDN'T SAVE (1970)
People got mad at me for this one. I was attacked verbally in public and very nearly libeled in the press. I threatened to sue Jesse Jackson and Jet magazine over a statement, but Jet retracted. People who said they spoke for the King family threatened to sue me, but they never did. I had friends in the office of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who said if I had any problems along these lines to call them.
Most people who attacked me had not read the book, only the stories in the press. The host of Positively Black, Eugene Callender, tried at the last moment to cancel me off the show, but I raised hell and he had to leave me on. Of course, many years later, I was vindicated, when subsequent to the publication of The King God Didn't Save, FBI revelations (not by them, of course) proved me as accurate as I'd thought myself to be when I wrote the book.
But, as a friend of mine noted, "Nobody called to apologize."