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Deliverance (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) Paperback – September 10, 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 197 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A novel that will curl your toes...Dickey's canoe rides to the limits of dramatic tension."—New York Times Book Review

"A brilliant and breathtaking adventure."—The New Yorker

"A novel stunning power."—The Nation

"A tour de force."—New Republic

From the Publisher

"A novel that will curl your toes...Dickey's canoe rides to the limits of dramatic tension."--The New York Times Book Review

"A brilliant and breathtaking adventure."--The New Yorker

"A novel stunning power."--The Nation

"A tour de force."--The New Republic

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library 100 Best Novels
  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (September 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780385313872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385313872
  • ASIN: 038531387X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
James Dickey's "Deliverance" is a study of how a civilized, peaceful, law-abiding man chooses a "kill or be killed" mentality when he is trapped in a life-or-death situation by an unforeseeable danger. The novel opens with four middle-aged white-collar men from Atlanta planning a weekend canoe trip down a river in northeastern Georgia. Lewis Medlock is the experienced outdoorsman and adventurer of the group; he seeks to conquer the wilderness and boasts of the injuries he's received and hardships he's overcome in his fishing and hunting excursions. Ed Gentry, the narrator, a graphic design consultant by profession, is an avid archer but does not quite share Lewis's love of the outdoors. Accompanying them are the sensible Drew, a sales executive for a soft drink company, and Bobby, indecisive, emasculated, and almost completely out of his element.
The river flows through rocky, mountainous terrain, one of those areas in which all the human inhabitants are presumably related to each other. Some of the locals try to discourage the men from tackling the river with canoes, but Lewis is resolute, and they set off down the river as planned. The trip goes smoothly the first day, but the next day, Ed and Bobby run into trouble -- a terrifying encounter with two murderous, animalistic backwoods goons. Lewis and Drew arrive in time to save Ed's and Bobby's lives, but not without a price. When the four men try to escape down the river, Lewis, the strongest and best hunter among them, breaks his leg in a passage through some vicious rapids. Trapped in a gorge and stalked by a vengeful assailant, the men must rely on Ed to save their lives.
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No doubt you've seen, and likely enjoyed, "Deliverance", the movie. And in many ways, that terrific film was a faithful rendering of James Dickey's classic. Yet, as with most successful films based on successful novels, the written form allows much more interest, more depth, more nuance. "Deliverance" the novel is so well written that a single sentence can conjure 1,000 frames of film, a paragraph an entire scene. James Dickey is better known for poetry than fiction, and the lyrical quality of his prose is well evident in this journey of four Atlanta businessman down a raging north Georgia river. Told in the first person by Ed Gentry (Jon Voight in the film), "Deliverance" is a gripping adventure story, but also of one humiliation, murder, tragedy, and ultimately a soul searching study of one man's struggle with courage, morality, and ethics. Dickey offers an unapologetic and unflattering portrait of the hill people of northern Georgia, yet without malice or prejudice - simply the necessary backdrop to serve as the physical manifestation from which there can be "deliverance". Fiercely told and every bit as suspenseful as the excellent film, this great classic should be read by all lovers of American fiction.
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Format: Paperback
Shocking when it was published in 1970, James Dickey's DELIVERANCE has become a classic on par with J.D. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, or Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5. It is the full, unflinchingly honest story of one man's observations, experiences, travails and---yes---horrors of going out into the natural world for a taste of the wild life. An odyssey for which he had never been even remotely prepared in his life.
It is the story of Ed Gentry, his born-to-be-wild, alpha-male best friend Lewis (we never do find out his last name), and two acquaintances, soft-bodied insurance salesman Bobby Trippe and banjo-playing sales manager Drew Ballinger, as they set out on a three-day whitewater canoe journey. A canoe journey that would bring them much, much more than any of them---including Lewis---had bargained for. One that would bring them face-to-face with the wild side of human nature. One which they might not survive.
Told from Ed's viewpoint, DELIVERANCE is a powerful study in what happens when two extremes meet each other; when one has to play the other's game in order to hope for any chance of survival. When raw masculinity is freely expressed in one moment, then cruelly stripped away in the next. When one's biggest fear was making it through the daily grind, and who now must rely on his own long-atrophied natural instincts to achieve his own needed deliverance. This is a study in suburban routine and complacency meeting the ugly rural face of chaos. This is the story of the weekend these men had when they didn't play golf.
This is a story that is unsuspectingly brutal, not for the squeamish and certainly not for children. Everyone else should experience it. Whether it turns you off or intrigues your senses, one thing's for sure: DELIVERANCE is a novel that will stay with you long after you finish the journey.
MOST RECOMMENDED; AGES 17 & UP
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Format: Paperback
This remarkable book was James Dickey's first novel. The story is familiar to everyone who has seen the John Boorman-directed movie for which Dickey wrote the screenplay. I reread this recently after reading it over a decade ago and was stuck by how little action there actually is this the quintessential adventure story. Much of the novel is Ed Gentry's inner monologue. He thinks about his life and his dissatisfaction with his job. The canoe trip of this story is taken at the instigation of Lewis Medlock, the character played in the movie by Burt Reynolds. Ed regards it almost as a chore to be endured in order to please his friend. He goes through the motions without any passion until placed in a kill or be killed life threatening situation. You could say that Ed's ordeal is a rite of manhood. Despite being a man in his late thirties, he has not yet proved his own worth to himself. Like a manchild of a primitive tribe, he is sent out into the wilderness and must survive by his owns wits and courage or die trying.
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