Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paperback Flashback: Ward 20 by James Warner Bellah

Celebrating vintage paperbacks--both the cheesy & the profound.
But mostly the cheesy.

Twenty-four hours in a World War Two military hospital surgical ward.  From the sounds of it, there's lots of PTSD, head bandages and shirt-straining bosoms.

Opening Lines:  It was still dark when Miss Mahon came into the Ward with the early medicine tray.  Warm with the sleep of men and quiet, freshening with the first early air of morning that breathed through the screened windows and stirred bed curtains, rattling the rings of one of them faintly against its chromium bar.

Page 100:

This one came to me by way of eBay.  There's something about the cover that really appeals to me: the lime-green wall, the off-kilter title that bisects that deep longing look between the two of them, the way she's taking his pulse with her right hand, and the mystery of where her left hand is and what it's doing (I assume she's turning the hand-crank which will raise his bed to bring him closer for that inevitable kiss).

I don't know much about James Warner Bellah (1899-1976), beyond what this website tells us: "In World War I he joined the Canadian Army and served as a pilot overseas in the Royal Air Corps.  Just before World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of lieutenant to colonel and serving on several general staffs in Southeast Asia."  Bellah also had a pretty successful Hollywood career:  he wrote the screenplays for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and several popular movies were made from his stories, including Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Dancing Lady.

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