Speedboat and 911

Reading the reissue of Renata Adler’s Speedboat (1976) this reference to the emergency number 911 caught my eye:


Although, by 1976, the 911 system had already been in place for years in NYC it didn’t become a fixed idea nationally until the late 70s/early 80s. Here’s a New York Times story on 911 from the year of Speedboat‘s publication:


Fraught with such conflicted associations and meanings, 9-1-1 = emergency in ways that its early users could never have imagined. With that in mind: what are the earliest references to the emergency number 911 in literature? Adler’s Speedboat can’t be the first, or can it?

About Nicholas

Writer. Professor.
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