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Deliverance’s 40th anniversary & Dickey’s Southern monsters

deliveranceDwight Garner writes about the 40th anniversary of Deliverance by James Dickey in the New York Times book review.

Dickey wrote about men, neither dudes nor (although they were fathers) dads. The men in Deliverance meet real monsters and recognize their ability to become, in Dickey’s phrase, countermonsters. Deliverance had its moment. The book got ecstatic reviews; its author was interviewed on Today. Deliverance tangled on best-seller lists with Love Story, The Godfather and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It was an unsettling book that arrived, as if on cue, at an unsettled time. In its primitive violence readers caught echoes of Vietnam, the Sharon Tate murders, even of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In its elegiac lament for a disappearing river, the book chimed along with America’s budding environmental movement.

The articles goes on….

The novel has the primal witchery of Lord of the Flies, but attempts to teach it in classrooms have mostly been rebuffed: the novel’s homosexual rape scene, and its musky sexuality throughout, are too much for many. Deliverance has its detractors among Southerners, too, for its portrait of mountain people as toothless sociopaths. When he was governor of Georgia, the future United States senator Zell Miller placed it on his list of most hated books.

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