Book #42-Deliverance by James Dickey

After a very long winter, I’ve yearned for the great outdoors, however, after reading Deliverance, I may have to settle for the local park… in the daylight…with lots of people…people I know…people I trust.  Egads this was quite the distressing read.

As I tried with Lord of the Flies, I did not want to conjure up memories of the film adaption, but it was rather difficult not to hear that banjo strumming or see Burt Reynolds fishing with a bow and arrow.  James Dickey took me down the raging Cahulawassee river and made me forget quickly as I focused on holding on, and holding on for dear life.  My physical response (racing heart and churning stomach) while reading this book took me aback, but allowed me to truly join those men on their weekend of terror.

Set in the backwoods of Georgia, four men set out on a weekend trip  down the roaring river in canoes.  Not all survive and for those that do,  their deliverance out of the Cahulawassee transforms them forevermore.

Lewis Medlock is the he-man of the bunch and plans the trip as his latest conquest of the outdoors.  He meticulously prepares for the outing, but admits he has never traveled the river’s length so warns the others to prepare for the unexpected.

I found myself repeatedly annoyed with Ed Gentry, who was Lewis’ second in command.  Perhaps it was his sexist thoughts of his wife at home wringing her hands not knowing what to do without him.  C’mon, this book was written in 1970, not 1870.  He also disparages the overweight and inexperienced Bobby.  Enough said, he was not a likable, but quite believable character.

My personal favorite was Drew Ballinger, guitar in tow for the trip and the realist of the bunch.  He was the only one to question the wisdom of their weekend endeavor and continued to do so as they traveled further into the wilds.  Gut instincts do have merit, so its been said.

Then there was Bobby Trippe, the bumbling bachelor who didn’t have enough sense to know not to be somewhere he had no sense being.  Even his friends realized he was out of his element.  He may have entered the wilderness green, but he emerges a crumpled and aged leaf.

I think I’d feel safe taking a hike with Mr. Dickey who I imagine was quite the outdoorsman.  Perhaps he could recite some of his poems and share bits of his life in WWII and in Korea.

My rating for Deliverance is an 8 out of 10.

To see the entire list,  visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, Anthony Powell’s A dance to the music of time.



Filed under Deliverance

3 responses to “Book #42-Deliverance by James Dickey

  1. Impressive reading! I’m trying something similar myself, trying to read and review 100 novels this year but I am picking books more randomly, as I have a large number of unread books on my bookshelves. I am a second hand bookshop addict. I have just finished Deliverance too which is what led me here. I’m finding it hard to review as I disliked the ‘Iron man’ philosophy of Lewis so much I wished that he had suffered Bobby’s fate. Look forward to reading more of your reviews and good luck with your target!

    • vsudia

      Your goal is quite ambitious. Have you been tempted to toss any yet?

      Sounds like you didn’t enjoy the trip down the Cahulawassee river as much as I did. While I found most of the characters annoying or flat, I did enjoy the adrenalin rush Dickey delivered.

      Good luck with clearing your bookshelf!

  2. Haven’t really come near tossing any yet but am slowly falling off the pace. Need to get back on track with an intense burst. I quite enjoyed Deliverance but knew the plot from the film which I’ve seen a couple of times.
    Enjoyed some of Dickey’s poetry that I found online.
    I don’t think I’ll ever clear my shelves as every time I read a few I feel justified in buying a few more!

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