Saturday, 30 May 2015

Deliverance by James Dickey


It so happened that just when I finished reading, for the first time,Deliverance by James Dickey (pub.1970) the following evening I turned on the tv late at night and saw John Boorman's film again. Dickey in writing the screenplay kept close to the dialogue of the novel apart from ' squeal like a pig'. The symbolism which permeates the novel of city dwellers going back into their primal selves by canoe and armed with bows and arrows is effective. To the natives of the area they might represent the city planners that are in the process of extirpating them. It is a sort of rape not the equivalent of actual sodomy but maybe the anger behind it. They have to move their dead and in the film the clapboard church is transported on a flat bed. I forget whether that detail was in the book. Where the book surpassed the film was of course in the narration which brought an immediacy to the action. Ed's climbing up the cliff and his laying in ambush for the killer of his friend is tense and in the past tense too so we know he's going to make it. (No spoiler, if you don't know already you were awol from the 20th century) Novels reread bring suspense that defeats knowledge. Suspended knowledge accompanying suspended disbelief and the original weight remains intensified as possibility.

An American classic.

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