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Deliverance by James Dickey
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Deliverance (1970)

by James Dickey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,974424,916 (3.92)104
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» See also 104 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I saw parts of this movie many years ago, and I found it troublesome. I believe, now, that I didn't even see the movie in its entirety....

Upon listening to Burt Reynolds' memoir ("But Enough About Me"), I decided I'd like to watch it again sometime... before that, I decided to read the book. (Reynolds said he had read it before being asked to play Lewis--I thought that was interesting, and I realized the actual story must be pretty good.)
I'm so glad I picked this book up! I really enjoyed the writing itself, and as is typical for me, I was able to read the difficult scenes much more easily than I'm able to watch them. This story is beautifully written--many of the things Dickey's character, Ed, says or thinks are things I could easily see myself saying or thinking. I especially appreciated that the story came from his point of view, rather than Lewis', who I'd initially believed to be the protagonist of the story. In reality, it's Ed's story, and that makes it so much better! I was really able to identify with Ed and his struggles, his fears, and his successes! ( )
1 vote trayceetee | Apr 9, 2018 |
A masterpiece of lyrical, intense writing. When I think of the old writing admonition "make haste, slowly," I think of this book, because the plot is riveting and tense and yet it all unfurls with a measured deliberation, with great care in the writing that transforms it from a potboiler to something far more beautiful. There are so many arresting sentences here. I've cracked the book at random to highlight just a couple (and I don't think they'll spoil anything since they're devoid of context):

"I knew it was not a game, and yet, whenever I could, I glanced at the corpse to see if it would come out of the phony trance it was in, and stand up and shake hands all around, someone new we'd met in the woods, who could give us some idea where we were. But the head kept dropping back, and we kept having to keep it up, clear of the weeds and briars, so that we could go wherever we were going with it." ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
First Edition
  bonedoc86 | Sep 27, 2017 |
A great read! I've done a fair bit of climbing and a few white water canoe trips and clearly the writer has too. The poetic way he writes about them gets deep into you and is very enjoyable to read, if you like that kind of thing.
Actually I tend to avoid books with lots of 'action' as I prefer not to be gripped in that way by a book; prefer something a bit slower paced. But this was very well written, and the action picked up and slowed down enough times to not suck me along too quickly and to allow me to savour the prose.

Unusually, this is one case where the film stayed very faithful to the book, including much of the script, and I really don't think it matters which order you consume them in. Having said that, it took me a while to get the images of the film characters (Burt Reynolds et al.) out of my head and some of the descriptions didn't entirely match the actors used in the film. Not too much of a distraction though.

Watching the film last year left me with a lot to ponder, so I wanted to read the book to get a bit more of the author's thoughts and intentions on the things I was left pondering. The book is written from the point of view of Ed Gentry and you get great insight into his mind, but unfortunately I didn't get any more insight into the questions that I was left with. In fact, the questions didn't even arise for me with the book. I think they arose more readily with the film because you have the visual images of the hillbillies so perhaps you see them more as real people with real lives (?) and also because the doubt around the identity of the guy shot by Ed was only touched on briefly in the book and not pondered on. This was the same in the film, but I guess it left me with a lasting impression of the tension and their facial expressions / body language showing the doubt. In the book I wasn't left with any doubt about his identity.
It would be really interesting to know your thoughts on this point, if you've seen the film. Essentially my residual questions after the film were of an ethical socio-cultural / xenophobia nature. I thought it was very telling that it seemed to be totally OK to take a hillbilly's life even though he could have been completely innocent father, son, brother. All the way through the Hillbillies were presented as worthless half-people (although it is probably worth noting this was characteristic of the era), and almost all the talk of the area being dammed and flooded to create a reservoir was related to the shame about losing all the wilderness forest and the river, and not about the loss of homeland of the Hillbillies, until right near the end, where (at least in the book - can't remember about the film), they ask a kid what the guys in the background are doing and he says they are moving graves of their dead so they don't end up under the lake, which took Ed by surprise. Again, this is not ruminated about.
I'm left really unsure whether the depth I saw was intended to be there or not. Perhaps it was just 'meant' to be a thriller about how our basic survival instincts play out even when we've lost our 'nature' through civilization. ( )
  BecksideBooks | Jun 22, 2017 |
Extremely well written, but a very dark story. I have not seen the movie, so I do not know how it compares, but I can't imagine the movie being as good. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
It was an unsettling book that arrived, as if on cue, at an unsettled time. In its primitive violence readers caught echoes of Vietnam, the Sharon Tate murders, even of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In its elegiac lament for a disappearing river, the book chimed along with America’s budding environmental movement.
 
Dickey's novel gives the impression of calculation, of cunning, the senses are subordinate to the brain. True, many of the moments are actualized but they do not fall together in a convincing whole. The plotting is too obvious; the obvious is the enemy of illusion. And the novel lives, takes its life, from illusion.
added by Shortride | editLos Angeles Times, Robert Kirsch (pay site) (Apr 12, 1970)
 
In writing "Deliverance," James Dickey obviously made up his mind to tell a story. And on the theory that a story is an entertaining lie, he has produced a double-clutching whopper.
 
Dickey's prose style is muscular, tactile, pungent, luminous, raw, a marvelous instrument, as in the best of his poems, for evoking the towering presence of trees and rivers, earth and sky, as well as the sinuous movements of men under stress. It falters, and here and there ludicrously, when psychological amplification must accompany physical processes; the characters, though naturalistically drawn, seem fitful and dim, the figures of dream or nightmare.
added by Muscogulus | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 23, 1970)
 
The story is absorbing, even when you are not quite persuaded Dickey has told the truth. He is effective and he is deft, with the fine hand of an archer. God knows what he might accomplish when he gets used to the form.
added by Muscogulus | editNew York Times Book Review, Evan S. Connell (pay site) (Mar 22, 1970)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Dickeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Il existe à la base de la vie humaine, un principe d'insuffisance.
Georges Bataille
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,
thou that dwelleth in the clefts of the rock,
whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart,
Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Obadiah, verse 3
Dedication
To Edward L. King and Albert Braselton, companions
First words
Before: It unrolled slowly, forced to show its colors, curling and snapping back whenever one of us turned loose. The whole land was very tense until we put our four steins on its corners and laid the river out to run for us through the mountains 150 miles north.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038531387X, Paperback)

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the states most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the states most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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