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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  19,648 ratings  ·  678 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published September 10th 1994 by Delta (first published 1970)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I saw this twice, once in the late 80’s and again in 1996, shortly after my husband and I got married. I loved the movie both times I saw it, even though my husband found it utterly boring and not nearly as thrilling as Southern Comfort. Over time, the scenes that stood out the most for me were the dueling banjos and the hillbilly rape.

Right after reading the book, I watched the movie a third time. The first thing I noticed was that the film was quite faithful to the bo...more
Wow. I've been talking about Deliverance to all my friends, who all roll their eyes at me, because I haven't seen the movie.

This was one of the best books I've read this year. The writing is documentary style, but surprisingly lyrical. It's told from a single point of view, and works so well for description, mood, suspense, I absolutely loved it.

Am I the only person in the world who hasn't seen the movie? I'm familiar with the two most talked-about scenes. The banjo scene was beautifully writte...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
The book from which they made the movie that kicked off the backwoods brutality genre.

I haven't seen the movie. It probably isn't as dense with details of slants of thought and twists of mind as the novel is. On the other hand, it probably doesn't have to spend hundreds and hundreds of words describing settings.

Dickey's style is far from stripped-down or terse. It's detailed; very detailed. Often too much so for my taste, getting lost in a second-by-second description of crawling over a rock,...more
Feb 23, 2008 Bloom rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bloom by: Modern Library Top 100 List
Like many of you, I imagine, I have a simple rule: read the book, then see the movie. But that didn’t happen with Deliverance. I saw the movie many years ago, and just now got to the book. At first it was hard to read the book—quite brilliant in its descriptive power—without seeing Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Jon Voight. But in a testament to the book, slowly they slipped away and the power of the page prevailed.

The plot is well-known: four buddies embark on a canoe trip down the a river in r...more
Sep 27, 2013 Dem rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who like a well written adventure story
Deliverance by James Dickey was a book that really took me by surprise. Outside of my comfort zone Deliverance tells the story of four men closing in on middle age and looking for a little adventure take to the remote white waster river in the Georgia wilderness with two canoes. The adventure turns to a nightmare and a struggle for survival.

I honestly had never heard of this book and for me this was a challenge as I don't read adventure stories. This was a brilliant and breath taking adventure a...more
Some impressions of the book four months after having read it:

The book, unlike the film, is told completely from the perspective of ad agency studio artist Ed Gentry, and so there's a lot of stuff about his home, work, family and his lust for an artist's model that are completely missing from the film. The filter of having it all told by him, with his analysis, also is not part of the movie. Ed is a main character in the film, for sure, but quite diminished in the screen version.

The first encoun...more
Adam Morel
For over thirty years, I have avoided this story. A young man with little experience in the woods outside of a KOA campground need not soon revisit such a tale of horror and invasion. Still, the memories of the worst of it, the visual of it have stayed with me, however blurred. The albino boy with the banjo, the wildness of the river, and yes, the screams of Ned Beatty. But film has rarely if ever captured the dark beauty of nature or the hopelessness of true tragedy and so it became time to pla...more
I haven’t seen the film adaptation of Deliverance; I’ve only heard of the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene. Having just finished the book, the movie is next up on my Netflix queue, and I can only hope it’s half as good as the novel. The book does what so many of the greats do: tell a highly entertaining, page-turning story while at the same time layering in ideas and themes one after the other without telling you what to think about them. You could write ten or twenty different viable papers o...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

A weekend adventure for four middle-aged suburbanites quickly turns sour when a couple of strangers interrupt their canoe trip . . .

With Spring just around the corner and the rumblings of “float trips” already being overheard in my corner of Redneckville, USA, I figured it was prime time to brush up on my camping knowledge so I can inform people what to truly expect on their weekend excursions.

Even if you are like me and have never w...more
It's too bad that there is such an overwhelming popular culture taboo built around this book, because it is one hell of a good book. While I read it, I kept thinking to myself, "Why did none of my college professors ever force us to read this book?", all the while trying to ignore the simple fact that it would have been too much, too risque, too potentially offensive... and that, in a room full of English majors, who are generally not known for their robustness of constitution or even of knowing...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this book just after I saw the movie, and it's another that can not actually be said to be said to be "enjoyable" due to the "unpleasantness" that invades the "holiday" of the men involved in the story. If you saw the movie, you got the gist of the story. It's unusual that the story doesn't get gutted in a movie, but here they followed the script in basic form at least.

I give this 4 stars because I happen to enjoy the out doors and this does at least in a way tell an outdoor story in spit...more
This wilderness survival yarn is about everything that can go wrong when four city slickers take a canoe trip on a white rapids river in north Georgia. Like the narrator, Dickey was also an ad man who wrote poetry which I've enjoyed reading. The fine movie (Dickey has a cameo appearance in the role of the local redneck sheriff) works much better as an action story. Dickey packs a lot of man v. nature philosophy and interior angst into his book that slows down the pace and dulls the tension. On t...more
For those of you who have seen the movie (I have not... yet!), I know what you're all thinking... who the hell would want to read this twisted book?! Answer: ME, obviously!

It was so much fun! I read the first 150 pages straight on my flight from Boston to L.A.. Major page-turner. This was an exhilarating and (yes) dark ride down the Cahulawassee river in the deep south. It's not just an adventure story, it's a deeply physiological examination some of the following themes:

- Man hunting man. What...more
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

de·liv·er·ance [dih-liv-er-uhns]
: the state of being saved from something dangerous or unpleasant

Deliverance is the deceptively simplistic story of four ordinary men from Atlanta that decide to go on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness. The river they plan to traverse is destined to disappear soon because of a new dam that will flood the area. Soon into their trip, they encounter two men who live in the nearby mountains and their weekend wilderness advent...more
Like most great adventure literature, it's the content that lies tangential to the main adventure plot that makes it really special. For example, only about a quarter of the length of Moby Dick is about a deranged captain seeking revenge on the pale whale which condemned him to a unipedal life. The rest is whaling history, philosophy, experiments in storytelling, etc. An abridged version which cuts out all material extraneous to the white whale plot line would be an entertaining read (perhaps ev...more
Edward Lorn
I can only think of three reasons someone reads Deliverance. You're a bibliophile who refuses to watch movies if they're based on books, you hate Burt Reynolds, or you have a fantasy wherein you're raped at gunpoint by country boys. My point is, no one watches the movie and says to themselves, "I've gotta read this book!" If you have never heard of Deliverance, you should sublet your rock to the witness protection program. Even if you haven't seen the movie or read the book you've heard about th...more
Perhaps due to an extemporaneous line in the movie version of Deliverance (it "jokingly" compares the slaughter of a pig to the experience of rape, and is not in the book), James Dickey's masterpiece has become the butt of jokes about "mutant rednecks" in Jeff Foxworthy stand-up routines and the like. This is unfortunate, since it obscures the brilliance of this classic, which the editors of the Modern Library rightly named as one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century. The book is a...more
4.5 Stars. A weekend canoeing trip for four friends becomes a battle for survival in this suspenseful and action-packed adventure story set in the remote backwoods of Georgia. A real page-turner that makes me want to watch the movie again plus see and hear the dueling banjo scene. A must-read!
Having never seen the movie but knowing that it involved brutal violence, I have shied away from this novel for years. However, I finally decided to read this Southern classic although it is out of my comfort zone. James Dickey controls the suspense and foreshadowing and spirals it upward and upward until the very second of release is perfect. He builds the tension in the plot until it feels as if something is going to burst. Even though the plot is emotionally grueling and violent, his language...more
What could be better than getting a few of the guys together and going on a nice canoe trip through the backwoods of Georgia? Right? Wrong. Oh how very wrong they were…

Four friends find out the hard way that small towns have their own laws and that the backwoods have no laws. It started out as a nice idea: four male friends decided to go out and become one with nature again. They had become sick to death with their everyday lives and wanted to go on an adventure. Too bad they had no idea what wa...more
I want to do this book justice with my review but I am not sure that I can. First, I should say that I feel my experience was enhanced by the fact that I listened to this story, read by Will Patton, and his reading was exceptional. He has a southern accent (whether it's Georgian or not I don't know, but to my Canadian ears it sounded appropriate), and a pronunciation and rhythm that totally appeal to me. He is a good reader! Anyhow, within the first hour or so of the story I was enchanted by the...more
A survival novel written by an illustrious poet is a strange proposition. And it certainly didn't work with To the White Sea, with its delirious, hallucinogenic prose and its antiseptically distant narrator. But Deliverance is as close to perfect as you can reasonably get.

I guess it's basically just that you hardly ever find a plot this tight (or guiltily pleasurable) in a literary novel. Dickey's prose is so nice to read: a mix between Saul Bellow's off-kilter metaphor* and Robert Penn Warren's...more
This is my second time reading Deliverance; this novel is apocalyptic. There are no nuclear weapons and no zombie attacks and no world war; it's a slower, creeping, inevitable apocalypse. The men in the book are comfortable in their suburban habits; even Lewis, the uber-masculine survivalist, is anchored to the suburbs by inherited real estate. The river is months away from being dammed, flooded, and turned into upscale developments. The appeal of their adventure is infectious- who wouldn't want...more
Now I like to vacation as much as anyone, but this white-water canoe trip on a river in northern Georgia is a trip to miss. Initially exhilarating, the weekend is meant to provide four middle-aged men from Atlanta with an adventure that they will talk about for years. Instead, the trip becomes a horrifying experience and the friends end up struggling for survival in the wilderness. The story is told from the perspective of a single character, ad agency executive Ed Gentry, and the extensive char...more
Sep 20, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ned Beatty fans.
Shelves: fiction
Film narrative and written narrative are two different forms, and ordinarily, I hate the statement "the book was better than the movie." It's usually a meaningless phrase, because the two mediums are so different that comparing the two is rather pointless. In the case of Deliverance, though, it's worth pointing out that you miss quite a bit if you only see the film. Dickey, no stranger to the land he writes about, makes the South a character just as gritty, elusive, profane and poetic as any of...more
Jason Katz
This is truly one of the of the great American novels. The movie is justifiably famous, yes, and entertaining, but the book is something altogether different. This is not an action plot, or a story of male bonding, or even a mere tale of survival. This is nothing less than an unvarnished exploration of man's true nature; it's a terrifying journey down the river of the mind, into the woods, the collective unconscious, the Jungian Shadow. For the four suburban men who have been sleepwalking throug...more
Mika Auramo
James Dickeyn klassikkoteos on monitahoinen ja -ulotteinen väkivalta- ja jännitysromaani. Joskus Boormanin erinomaisen leffan nähneenä, muistin tapahtumat jo pääpiirteittäin, ja samantapainen pelonsekainen ahdistus, kuolemanpelko sekä tappamisen meininki kirjasta välittyy vieläkin paremmin.

Neljä atlantalaista keskiluokkaista ja keski-ikäistä ystävystä päättävät ottaa viikonlopun irtioton arjesta. Kertojana toimii mainostoimiston omistaja Ed, idea on hänen kaverinsa Lewisin, joka maanisesti treen...more
The one about the city folk getting lost in the woods and subsequently raped/hunted. Confession: have never seen the film. I know its a big deal, but all I am ever faced with are the edited-for-TV sections (on TV) of the pig squeal and the torment-heavy ambiance. The bromance comes to a thunderous halt as the friends try to makes sense of it all and desire desperately to come out alive. It is, I will admit, pretty full of those literary premonitions any horror novel worth its salt would contain....more
This was an interesting read to say the least. I thought it wasn't all that bad, though I don't understand the appeal. It was interesting to see how a group of "normal" people deal with life changing events and the toll they take on even the closest of friendships. There are some events that not even a strong bond can overcome and people are quickly driven apart.
Review to follow. Although it is rare that I withhold a review until I have watched the movie, I'm making an exception to my general rule. After all, Dickey, along with John Boorman, who was not credited, wrote the screenplay for the film made in 1972. Dickey also appeared in the film as the sheriff.
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The need for the great outdoors, adventure 5 32 Jul 01, 2014 09:33AM  
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A mixed media review 1 18 Sep 07, 2012 03:34PM  
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Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After serving as a pilot in the Second World War, he attended Vanderbilt University. Having earned an MA in 1950, Dickey returned to military duty in the Korean War, serving with the US Air Force. Upon return to civilian life Dickey taught at Rice University in Texas and then at the University of Florida. From 1955 to 1961, he worked for advertising agencies in...more
More about James Dickey...
To the White Sea James Dickey Poems 1957-1967 The Whole Motion: Collected Poems, 1945 1992 Buckdancer's Choice: Poems James Dickey: The Selected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

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“I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.” 5 likes
“I just believe,' he said, 'that the whole thing is going to be reduced to the human body, once and for all. I want to be ready.... I think the machines are going to fail, the political systems are going to fail, and a few men are going to take to the hills and start over.... I had an air-raid shelter built,' he said. 'I'll take you down there sometime. We've got double doors and stocks of bouillon and bully beef for a couple of years at least. We've got games for the kids, and a record player and a whole set of records on how to play the recorder and get up a family recorder group. But I went down there one day and sat for a while. I decided that survival was not in the rivets and the metal, and not in the double-sealed doors and not in the marbles of Chinese checkers. It was in me. It came down to the man, and what he could do. The body is the one thing you can't fake; it's just got to be there.... At times I get the feeling I can't wait. Life is so fucked-up now, and so complicated, that I wouldn't mind if it came down, right quick, to the bare survival of who was ready to survive. You might say I've got the survival craze, the real bug. And to tell you the truth I don't think most other people have. They might cry and tear their hair and be ready for some short hysterical violence or other, but I think most of them wouldn't be too happy to give down and get it over with.... If everything wasn't dead, you could make a kind of life that wasn't out of touch with everything, with other forms of life. Where the seasons would mean something, would mean everything. Where you could hunt as you needed to, and maybe do a little light farming, and get along. You'd die early, and you'd suffer, and your children would suffer, but you'd be in touch.” 4 likes
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