NIGHT SONG by John A. Williams


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This is an earnest novel depicting Negro-White relationships against the back-ground of a New York Jazz set, and it in written with compassion for its characters and events, often igniting a high degree of intensity. It lacks a certain story-telling technique, and the ability to translate the emotions of prejudice implicitly- rather than through the of its author, who often slants the soul-searching of Hillary, a mixed up white college professor, and Keel, the tough-hip Negro who befriends him. The novel's best moments delineate the touching love affair between Keen and Della, a white social worker. The ordeals they face in a supposedly sophisticated and enlightened milieu are frightening, and so too are the circumstances which drive Eagle, one of the best Negro horn men around, to the addiction of heroin and his consequent death. Almost all of the dialogue is the currently fashionable bop lingo, and while this is realistic and appropriate, it may limit the book's appeal. There are many evocative passages about Greenwich Village at night, the personal world of jazz man, their women, their trials, and their passion for the music they play- and in spite of its hard core, the book ends on a quasi-affirmative, almost up-beat note. It should find a market among thoughtful, urban readers.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy