Jayaprakash Satyamurthy's Reviews > Deliverance

Deliverance by James Dickey
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May 17, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

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, climbing up a tree, and so on, delaying the next narrative beat with a wash of nuance. None of it is badly written, some of it is startlingly brilliant: the small waverings and clingings of the narrator,torn between wanting to savour this weekend in the wild as much as the macho friend he almost hero worships - but not quite - and realising that he belongs in a far more urban, domestic version of the world, however strong the temptation to fantasise about rugged survival might be. His need for safety and escape, the extremes they drive him too, the moments of total focus, identification with his target, contempt for the weak, for his weakened friends. The economical but effective sketches of his companions - it's hard to know if any of them really were friends, after all.

What holds me back from a 4-star rating is the fact that Dickey's narrative was often at odds with narrative flow, wordy where it should have been deft, weighty where it should have sprinted. There is just one pace throughout, the strong but plodding pace of a middle-aged man who gives the impression that he is settled in his life but is actually still trying to figure it all out in his head - which is marvelously apropos, but perhaps overdone a bit. Geoffrey Household would have given you all the action and the introspection without any of the dead time. I'll need to read this one more time to decide for sure.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Tfitoby (new)

Tfitoby i've been considering reading this for a while and almost buy it every time i see it but i guess it was the fear of what you describe that puts me off. i'm just not in to pages of scene setting. my mind wanders if i'm honest.


message 2: by Beth (new)

Beth I've seen the movie --- one of the few that's really stuck. The naive hunter becomes the hunted. Good review. Thanks.


message 3: by Dan's (new) - added it

Dan's Obsessions Yeah. Well the movie has a nice setting done by the same dir that made "The emerald Forest" so Burman is no stranger to the jungle-river It also futures a double star team-up with J. Voight & B Reinolds both too young and full of steamed-up Energy.
What makes U going though is to see if they can make their way unscathed by those fellow farmers who are left in a slam-town as if time passed them by. One opening scene I'lll vnr forget that country boy sittin onthe porch --playinh the banjo- and on a closer look he seems like he is a defunct offspring of incestous parents ( cousins more likely)
Well enough said 'bout that and to think I saw that one 7-9 yrs ago to say the least,!!

Also yes what our reviewr wrote in the 2nd paragraph, very much stands true in the emodiment of the scenario. One is nvr able to comprehend what the relation is btn those 3 "friends" apart of the Leader figure ( B Reynolds) who is driving an insane trip to meet the last-rough-rafting venture b4 civilization meets that hell whole and drowns it down just to make another large water front.


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