SUMMER OF DELIVERANCE by Christopher Dickey

SUMMER OF DELIVERANCE

A Memoir of Father and Son

KIRKUS REVIEW

This moving memoir by the famous poet’s son pulls no punches: James Dickey was a hard-drinking, prevaricating braggart whose bad behavior destroyed his family. Even so, to Christopher Dickey he was “father-poet-god” whom he loved in spite of his anger and bitterness. There was a reconciliation of sorts between Dickey and his son, Christopher (Innocent Blood, 1997, etc.), in the year or so prior to his death in January 1997. Christopher had limited contact with his father for nearly 20 years following the death of his mother in 1976. Dickey had a history of drunken loutishness and philandering; his son believes it was that and a mean-spirited neglect that drove his mother to drink herself to death. Two months after her funeral, Dickey married a student younger than Christopher. “I read about it in People,” writes the son. By all accounts, it was a violent marriage that included batterings and stabbings--of Dickey by his young, drug-addicted wife. Things started to unravel for the family, according to Christopher, with the widespread success of Deliverance and the film made from the novel. The younger Dickey was a stand-in during the filming and got a close-up view of his father’s dealings with director John Boorman and actors Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. Dickey would leave the set in a snit: “Boorman had said he was interfering too much. Said the actors were upset by his presence.” He would return, of course, and play a memorable part as the sheriff. But for the younger Dickey, his father’s embarrassing, obnoxious behavior was only outdone by his “righteous fury” at his father for “settling for less . . . for artistic compromises” in the making of the film. Dickey’s latter years saw him alternate between the celebrated, half-mad poet he had been and the sick, pathetic drunkard he became. An amazing portrait of a man who was a destructive force with a larger-than-life ego and who was also a man of intense passion, high intellect, and a delicate, artistic sensitivity. (First serial to the New Yorker)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-84202-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998




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