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The Machine in Ward Eleven

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  125 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
This reissue of Willeford's 1963 pulp classic is a timely reminder that madness is truly the dark heart of politics. Written at a time when people still had faith in their elected leaders, Willeford's book laid bare the American dream. There is an almost Chekhovian wistfulness in the treatment of his stories, which belies their considerable impact. "The most eloquently bra ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 27th 2001 by Thunder's Mouth Press (first published 1963)
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Mar 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book of Willeford short stories. I liked it. I didn't love it as much as did some of his novels. It's a must if you consider yourself a Willeford fan. That is if you've seen the movie, The Woman Chaser, read all the Hoke Mosleys, including the manuscript of Grimhaven, and have scoured used book stories for impossible-to-find paperbacks of his then you have to read this. But, if all that is true, then you've already have read this. Sorry. Never mind.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been a Willeford fan for years.
I believe it was a review by Alberto (or perhaps Col) that brought this collection of short stories to my attention.

Three of the stories in this collection feature variations on the same character. The others are the kind of "twist ending" stories popularized by The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents tv series and anthologies of the early 1960's.

The 1st story, "The Machine In Ward Eleven" originally appeared in Playboy Magazine in 1961.
"Selected Inci
Justin Howe
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Short story collection from one of my favorite noir authors. Willeford is all over the map here, trying his hand at psychological horror, absurdist fable, and the occasional Twilight Zone piece.

In Willeford's own words: "I had a hunch that madness was a predominant theme and normal condition for Americans living in the second half of this century."

Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychological, sci-fi
psycho/sci fi? Creepy, crazy Kosinsky meets, well, Willeford.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
That was a fun read. Willeford was a favorite and inspiration of my father's (Blaster Al Ackerman) and I can totally see the affinity after reading these. The uneasy sense that the stories all wound in on themselves and the dark humor throughout reminded me of Borges. The completely untrustworthy narrators and subtle brutality reminded me of Will Self.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
#17 from willeford for me.

the machine in ward eleven, charles willeford, paperback, isbn 1568582102...copyright 1961 charles willeford...141 printed pages...and 13 glorious blank pages before the back cover. verily. insert your index here. something to do w/the way they bind books as the scuttlebutt has it.

i the machine in ward eleven 7
ii selected incidents 36
iii a letter to a.a. (almost anybody) 55
iv jake's journal 67
v "just like on television--" 110
vi the alectryomancer 122 to 141

Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
At first I thought maybe all the stories were going to tie back to JC Blake, because both of the first stories are both about him, and I know that Willeford played around with POV shifts in other stories, but it's just the first two that connect, and the others are stand alones. As a whole, this collection is a lot tighter than The Second Half of the Double Feature. I've been reading his earlier stuff lately (Pick Up, Burnt Orange Heresy, Cockfighter, etc.), and this is definitely more of the il ...more
Douglas Castagna
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I am a big fan of Willeford. I hunted this title down, found it on Ebay, and tore into it. The book, which is very slim, coming in at just over 140 pages, is comprised of six related stories. The titular story is the best in the bunch. While they are all related, some more so than others, they are not all as strong as the first one, and I do not believe they can stand on their own, except for the first story, and the last one in the book. The book was written well over fifty years ago, and I fee ...more
R.W. Clark
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp-and-mystery
Pulp madness

I hesitate to call this a "redux" of another Pulp category, but it does continue Willeford's excellent work in "Pick Up."

I say this in the sense that in that earlier novel, the hero is also (self)committed to a (nearly)psycho ward. The difference here is a stylistic (and internal logical) consistency where the patient isn't entirely aware of all the details. He says as much, and yet as the teller of the tale, where does that put us to judge the facts on the face of the telling?

Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Read the first story. It was okay. Not sure that I feel inspired to continue. It was about a man in a psychiatric ward. It's unclear who he is, but he has memories of being a television director. A woman who says she's his wife comes to visit him every 30 days.

Slowly, one gets the impression that he's in the ward by choice. Then, he's threatened with electroshock therapy, and the story briefly gains some momentum.
Larry Webber
Jan 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Short stories, observances, add up to an unusual insight into Willeford, the young soldier of fortune.
John Wilson
I never learn when it comes to Willeford. He's just too weird for me.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
Simply not a good book. I have loved every other Willeford book I have read. There is just nothing in this one. Avoid it.
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Charles Willeford was a remarkably fine, talented and prolific writer who wrote everything from poetry to crime fiction to literary criticism throughout the course of his impressively long and diverse career. His crime novels are distinguished by a mean'n'lean sense of narrative economy and an admirable dearth of sentimentality. He was born as Charles Ray Willeford III on January 2, 1919 in Little ...more
More about Charles Willeford
“a man should always observe fanaticism when he gets the chance.” 3 likes
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