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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable. Slight water damage may be present.
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Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son Paperback – August 4, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Given the amount of emotional injury poet James Dickey (1923-1997) inflicted on himself and his family, it's a remarkable achievement that in this surprisingly tender memoir, Christopher Dickey not only discovers new love for his father but imparts it to readers as well. Arrogant, alcoholic, unfaithful to his wife, and manipulative with his children (he boasted of Christopher, "I made his head"), James Dickey emerges here as an all-too-human figure whose weaknesses are partially redeemed by his fierce passion for his art and by a late-life attempt to make amends for years of careless, destructive acts. His son's book is, among other things, a cautionary tale about the temptations of fame and money: Dickey's bestselling novel Deliverance (1970) pushed the poet to a level of commercial success he was ill equipped to deal with. The drinking got worse, the affairs more flagrant, the writing sloppier, and after Christopher's mother died in 1976, father and son seldom spoke. They reconciled in 1994; this book began as their mutual project to describe the making of the Hollywood film version of Deliverance. Good though those chapters are, it's the author's unflinchingly honest yet compassionate portrait of his father that stands out. Noted for his journalism, particularly covering Central America's gruesome civil wars of the 1980s, Christopher Dickey proves that he can plumb the intricacies of the human heart as incisively as the horrors of military conflict. His father would be proud. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

When his father, James Dickey, the poet and novelist, became ill in 1996, the author went to take care of him, not out of any great love, but rather from a sense of duty. On the very first page of this beautifully written dual-biography of father and son, Dickey, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief and author of Innocent Blood, refers to his father as the man who "killed my mother." Fame and alcohol were the twin demons of the Dickey household and Christopher traces their devastating effects during his father's slow evolution from a struggling writer to a celebrity poet and author of the novel Deliverance. His poetry led Dickey around the country to universities where he played the poet and seduced the students?all in the face of his increasingly alcoholic wife. But Christopher feels that the year when Deliverance was made into a movie, in the early '70s, marked the real turning point when many things were "exploited," including his father's integrity. What followed was a disaster of celebrity, as Dickey began "talking his poems, his books, his big projects into existence, when there was little or nothing on the page." Shortly after, Jim Dickey's wife died and he married a much younger?though equally alcoholic?woman. Dickey fils doesn't spare himself as when he recounts trying to sleep with his father's mistress and the destruction of his first marriage. But there is resurrection at the end: a solid second marriage, his rescue of his father and his young half-sister from their hellish life, and the reconciliation a few months before his father's death in January 1997. "Poetry is a matter of luck," Dickey recalls his father saying. "You can't teach it. You can point it out when it occurs." This unflinching and deeply affecting memoir is one of those places where real poetry occurs. Editor, Alice Mayhew; agent, Kathy Robbins.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: A Touchstone Book; First Edition edition (August 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684855372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684855370
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary Delsohn on October 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book, painful and redemptive at the same time, plus interesting as hell. If you thought of James Dickey only as the author of Deliverance, we are made aware here of what a remarkable poet he was and how pathetically ill-equipped he was for fame, marriage or fatherhood. It's far more than just another story of wretched excess, though. Christopher Dickey writes extremely well and honestly about his father and his feelings for him, and at the end you kind of like the old man, which sure seemed impossible for much of the book. But how many of us, if we had his brilliance or prestige that he gained from it, would have been any better at resisting all the trappings that come along? I'm still thinking about this book long after I finished and the end, where James Dickey is quoted at length on what it means to be a poet, is spellbinding and inspirational, worth the price of the book and the time it took to get to the end.
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Format: Paperback
Anyone with a father can relate to this book. No one needs to live the horrors of alcoholism to identify with the unrelenting need to be loved by our parents, especially our fathers. Regardless of age,race,or financial status, we continuously seek the approval of our parents. And Christopher Dickey paints an honest portrayal of what it's like to trust,love,hate and endure our parents. His experiences stir our hearts as we identify with the pain a parent can inflict on us. As his story unfolds, we see a part of ourselves in him as he learns to put things into perspective and let go of the pain. Refreshingly honest,and poetically constructed, Christopher Dickey has a magical way with words that makes us better for having shared his, and our, life experiences. A timeless story,excellently written, and guaranteed not to be forgotton!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to the poetry of James Dickey in a graduate school American Lit seminar in 1969-70. I was not then and still am not a poetry buff. My genre of choice was always fiction. But Dickey's stuff was different. His poems caught my attention. It probably didn't hurt that he was at the time the latest "darling" of the literary world, getting lots of press and his face on magazine covers. The poem I still remember from those long ago days is "The Sheep Child," with its dire and near-spritual consideration of and warnings to horny farm boys against the temptations of bestiality. In the ethereal and innocent voice of the half-sheep half-human monstrosity floating in a bottle in a forgottten corner of an Atlanta museum, this frightening 'rural legend' whispers:

"Dead, I am most surely living
In the minds of farm boys: I am he who drives
Them like wolves from the hound bitch and calf
And from the chaste ewe in the wind.
They go into woods into bean fields they go
Deep into their known right hands. Dreaming of me,
They groan they wait they suffer
Themselves, they marry, they raise their kind."

It is a chilling image, a more serious look perhaps at the same sexual compulsions that plagued poor tortured teenager Alex Portnoy. Another poem I remember is "Fog Envelops the Animals" with its images of a bow hunter stalking a deer in early morning fog. The poem's subject was revisited in a scene in Dickey's highly successful novel, Deliverance.

For all of his writing life, James Dickey aimed at writing totally orginal virile, vigorous and "muscular" poetry and prose, and he seemed to succeed in poems like "Fog...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed learning about the relationship between this most unusual father and son. The son was courageous in telling us about some of the small horrors caused probably by his father's rather incessant drinking for most of his life.Still, this is no hatchet job--no "Daddy Dearest," but a thoughtful examination of two overlapping lifetimes and how the powerful, overwhelming, boisterous, libidinous father came close to destroying the father-son relationship with his prideful inability to stay calm, listen and relate.

The section of the book about the making of the Deliverance movie was especially fascinating, with peeks into the personalities of the rich and famous who arrived to participate in the movie's making.

I hope we get more books from Christopher Dickey--I thought his writing was excellent.
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Format: Hardcover
Christopher Dickey's memoir of his relationship with his father has helped me to understand James Dickey, the artist, as never before. The book picks up steam about halfway through and *becomes* utterly compelling. (The last two sections are as moving as anything I've read in a long time.) In the beginning sections, though, I tired of watching the son invent ways of stating that his father imagined himself the God of poetry--and of all his world--and that for him the imagined life matched, even exceeded, the real in terms of its significance. It's true, no doubt, and tragic. But it becomes trite through so much repetition.
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Most every one deals with dysfunctional some thing, this is an amazing story, well told, and sensitive to the topic... In the end, we get , that the best any one can do is the best they can do, and sometimes, it just isn't enough, but it is all we have. So it's okay.
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