What can I say about the twentieth book on the list? While I had already read a couple of the first twenty books before, I haven't been as familiar with a story as I was with Deliverance. It makes for a different reading experience, and I found myself concentrating on the difference between the movie and the book, not the things I normally, ney, should be concentrating on; writing style, character development, etc.
What I thought made Deliverance a good book, is the story. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still reading, eagerly anticipating the next page. To me, this is what makes a book 'good.' If there isn't much happening (think Naked Lunch or To the Lighthouse) I find it really difficult staying interested in the story. The imagery or poetic elements of a book have failed to get my attention. However, I am finding the more I read, the more I pick up on these things.
The other great part of Deliverance, is the characters. When I was reading this book, I always had a good picture of what the characters looked like and how they reacted to different things. I really felt like I knew them. I do realize however, that this is probably a result of having seen the movie so many times. I fear that I wasn't picturing Dickey's descriptions as much as I was picturing the actors from the film. Either way, it made me enjoy the book a great deal.
Now the question that remains, is what was better, the movie or the book? I've thought about this a great deal, as I rally enjoy the movie and think it was well done. However, I'm going to go with the book for the same reason the book is always better than the movie. Simply, books can go into greater detail than a movie can. In the case of Deliverance, the book covers the back story so much better. We learn more about who the characters are and what their motivations are. We learn more about what happens after their fateful trip down the river. The movie never really gets into how each man changed as a result of what happened. In short, the book answers most of the questions one has after watching the movie; that's why it's better.
Plus, I now have a better understanding of my role as Hillbilly Santa in my Grade 8 Christmas play, a character with an extra ear and an extra eyeball sewn into the forehead of his skullcap.
You can read Time magazine's original review from April 20, 1970 here.