A gazillion years ago, a friend and I were lurking and prowling in used book stores in San Diego. We separated, then when we met up again, my friend asked, 'Did you find anything good?' "A few things," I said. "But I was looking for a copy of 'Deliverance' and didn't find it." "You're not missing anything," he replied.
Among everything that's happened in my life since, that remark still stands out as one of the most seriously mistaken. Based on his advice, I sort of stopped looking for it, but when the paper copy and I finally did connect, I was astonished. "Deliverance" is an unqualified masterpiece. Now, I've read it about three times and just finished listening for the first time -- and I tell ya, the audio version is even better than the printed version. I normally listen to audiobooks when I'm doing some sort of mindless task, and many times during "Deliverance" I found that I'd just stopped what I was doing and just stood there, listening. It's totally captivating and consuming.
I suppose my friend's mistaken opinion of "Deliverance" was based on the film -- which I've now seen, too. Once. Indeed, the film is brutal and harsh -- scary, in the vicious savagery it depicts. The book stands in stark contrast -- tense? Yes. In fact, I'd be surprised if this book weren't used in writing classes, to demonstrate the proper way to build tension until it becomes almost unbearable. In the first few chapters especially, you just know something awful is going to happen -- you're just waiting for something to explode. And it does, of course -- but in the book, those terrible scenes we remember from the film take up just a few pages. By today's standards, in the book, it's not even especially violent.
What does linger in the mind is the poetry of the whole thing -- a river runs through the whole story, with Dickey's marvelous commentary on its almost ethereal beauty, its symbolism as a life force, for good or bad, and the danger it can represent.
It's also time for me to issue an apology to narrator Will Patton. The truth is, since listening -- trying to listen -- to several of the James Lee Burke books Patton has narrated, I've avoided any other books listing him as narrator. The Burke books are -- my opinion -- annoying, in that Patton sounds as though he's either drunk or half asleep or maybe both. For me, it's not a pleasant thing to listen to. But here? Oh, my. He's perfect -- none of that drugged-out sort of talk, nothing like that. Not only do I have no complaints, but I have nothing but the highest praise for his work here. Sorry 'bout that, Mr. Patton. Now I'm going to see what other books -- other than the Dave Robicheaux series -- he's narrated. Maybe that half-asleep silliness was just an affectation for those books alone.
Bottom line: if you haven't read "Deliverance" yet, you've got a treat in store for you. Forget the movie. Listen to the audio version -- marvelous, just marvelous.
This story moves with all the force of the furious river at its center! We know from the first paragraph that nothing good will happen to these weekend warriors - but the ultimate sequence of events is beyond imagining. Having seen the movie long ago I knew it would be intense, but as usual, the book that spawns a great movie is a real masterpiece. Will Patton is my favorite narrator and this book is perfectly suited to his voice.
I must have seen the movie two or three decades ago. It seemed a testosterone driven story. So I wasn't sure. A good novel transends genre, though. I enjoyed the story very much. I was pleased that the story continues after they get off the river finally and gives you an idea of how this horrific experience has affected their lives thereafter. Very well written. Interesting and compelling enough that I stayed with it and finished in one day. I actually liked the slower portions of the book as it gave you insight into the central character. I thought the pacing of the story varied nicely.
It sure didn't take long to get into this book and then not be able to let go of it. I just love a book that I cannot put down, or in this case, turn off! I found my shoulders continually hunched up and my knuckles white throughout most of it. What a great adventure story! When I started it, I was afraid it would be besought with swearing, given that it's a guy thing, but although there was a little, it was mostly just good writing and a great story. Thank you James Dickey! I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The performance by Will Patton was spot-on. I felt like I was living this nightmare right along with the characters, and when it was over, I missed them.
The worst thing about finishing a story like this is picking out the next one and then being disappointed when it is not as good.
I remember reading this book when I was a young lad and enjoying every turned page. I remember the movie both engaging me and holding me in suspense. Without a doubt Will Patton is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. His voice is as enthralling as it is mesmerizing. I always loved him as an actor, now I love him even more as a narrator of excellent audiobooks. He first grabbed me when I listened to the abridged edition of Gone South by Robert McCammon (a two cassette edition done years and years ago, my favorite author--three of his books are in my top five favorites of all time--Boy's Life, Swan Song, and The Wolf's Hour, by the way).
The story is as strong as a raging river which cannot be denied its sacrifices. The reading greatly matches Dickey's superb storytelling!
It is not hyperbole for me to say that James Dickey should be spoken of in the same breath as ANY classic american author. He's a poet and genius. This book was done an injustice by the movie being made. I think more people would have read it if it could have been appreciated for the beautiful piece of literature that it is.
The fact that Will Patton reads it only makes it more perfect. Expectations cannot be too high when starting this book.
Member since 1998!
Yes, I have seen the movie a couple of times. Why I waited 25 years to read(listen) to the book is a mystery. At it's core this is a tale of the extremes of life. Ed Gentry owns and operates an ad agency and is bored to tears. He takes a trip with his friends hoping to burn away the cobwebs that have appeared in his life. The real reason he goes, however, is simply to pacify his pal Lewis Medlock, who is a survivalist and outdoor nut. Ed even hopes that some last minute emergency can stop the trip. It does not. And readers are propelled faster and faster to the horror of Ed's moment of truth, when he thinks he must kill another man. And it is not a quick decision, at least not what might be thought of as instantaneous. Ed has plenty of time to track his prey, notice what the other man is wearing. He also realizes the other man is tracking him, and that is the actual moment of decision. Ed must decide in a fraction of a second what to do.
Author James Dickey writes with a poet's mastery of language. Descriptions of the hill people, the forest, mountains and the river are lyrically connected. A reader feels as if he is watching everything unfold. The two most enduring scenes from the movie involve rape and dueling banjos. As important and captivating as those two moments are there are many other episodes that will hold the listener(reader) enthralled. This is a true tale of survival.
This book has a good premise from which to build a story from, then James Dickey writes a spectacular book around it. The dialog is tense, realistic and moving. The book captures the events and the emotions surrounding them in a way that is unique and sharp and real. I felt like I was there, on that trip, part of the action. If you have seen the movie and do not think you would like the book, which is how I felt, put that prejudice aside this is a top tier piece of literature, it is written with talent and feeling and it will surprise you.
I was a little hesitant about listening to the book since I have seen the movie several times. However, the fact that Will Patton is the narrator won me over. I'm very glad too! The movie followed the book very closely, but the book gave so much more insight into who the men are, what they are doing on the river, and why they each had such different reactions. The story is captivating--in spite of the fact that I knew the ending! Will Patton is a perfect narrator for the story. It was fun!
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This was a selection made because it was on sale and Audible reviewers are nearly unanimous in their praise and assurances that the movie did not do the story justice. They are right. I was not prepared for the intensity and beauty of Dickey’s writing, especially once the guys got to the river. His connection to the wilderness and his ability, through Ed’s musings, to communicate the primal shift in focus, commitment and even self-identity, was eloquence itself. Feeling the transformation Ed made from being content (almost proud) to be a “slider” to becoming a take-charge survivor raised this from a testosterone saturated action script to a rethinking of “The Lord of the Flies”.
The only thing that keeps this from 5 stars for me is the relative weakness of the opening. While it was important to know who Ed was prior to the river, Dickey took too long with the set-up, actually making Ed so unlikeable and apathetic about his own life that the dramatic transformation on the river would be unbelievable if not written so well.
A shout-out has to be given to Will Patton’s astounding narration. Had I tried reading this in print, I’m almost positive I would never have finished. It took Patton to really take me into Ed’s head on the cliff, up in the tree, going through the rapids. The voicing of all the other characters is spot on, natural and unforced. A perfect performance.