RARA-AVIS: Machines & Wards

From: Bill Bowers ( Bill@Outworlds.net)
Date: 12 Jun 2001

> >Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 16:59:13 -0500
> >To: rara-avis@icomm.ca
> >From: Bruce Southworth < bruces1@mindspring.com>
> >Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V3 #739
> >
> >
> >Hubin's Crime fiction index 3 (which goes thru 1995) does have listings
> >for Belmont as a publisher but has no reference for 'The Machine in Ward
> >Eleven' either under Willeford or his pseudonym of Will Charles. There is
> >a passing reference to 'The Machine in Ward Eleven' in "Pulp Culture: Hard
> >Boiled Fiction and the Cold War" by Woody Haut, but no publisher listed.
> >
> >Interestingly, there is no mention at all of Willeford in either Barzun's
> >"A Catalogue of Crime" (revised and enlarged ed.) or, the new "Oxford
> >Guide to Crime and Mystery Writing" ed. by Rosemary Herbert.

Part of the problem with looking in sources such as these is that -- rightly or wrongly -- the collection "The Machine in Ward Eleven" is generally considered "science fiction", even though it's not labelled as such on the paperback. At least I'd heard of this legendary (and rare) book in science fiction fandom years before I was sucked into mystery genre, and thence Willeford.

One thing that lead me to go to considerable lengths (and some expense) to get a copy was that I'd heard about subject matter of the title story. You see my father, as a result of a quote nervous breakdown unquote in 1949-50, underwent electro-shock 'therapy' -- twice. I was only a kid, 6 or 7, but I _knew_ that the man who came out was not the same as the man who had gone in. (It was at that point that I consciously determined that I would
_never_ loose control to an extent that *they* could justify doing _that_ to _me_. It hasn't always made my life easy....)

I don't know how Willeford "researched" this tale but, as the Brits on another List would say, it was spot on.

[This volume -- he said, just having received DELIVER ME FROM DALLAS! last week -- is rare enough that McMillan should consider reissuing it.]

Bill Bowers  |  <Bill@Outworlds.net>

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