Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Deliverance" and "The Wilding"

Benjamin Percy's new novel, "The Wilding," looks like one to watch, and it's good to see him acknowledge so openly his debt to the work of James Dickey. An excerpt from Percy's interview on the Powell's Books Blog:

Percy: Well, the novel is in so many ways about animalistic impulses. Every character is struggling with this inner wilding, and in some cases it boils over. It manifests itself most obviously in the character of Brian, who in donning this hair suit becomes almost lycanthropic. Then there are more subtle examples such as with Karen, where she's stepping outside the boundaries of marriage and wrestling with sexual impulses that might lead her away from her family. This is an idea that parallels some of what we see in James Dickey's Deliverance. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that novel, and it's one of the most important books in my library. I modeled The Wilding in many ways after it. If you look at Deliverance, it's one of the central themes that Dickey is trying to explore as well.
I didn't set out to write about animal instinct. I didn't set out to write about the clash between wilderness and civilization. I never set out with a theme in my mind. I begin with images in mind, with characters in mind, and the themes rise up organically. It's at first an instinctual process for me, and then it becomes more intellectual as I go through draft after draft. Dickey's Deliverance and its furry, toothy core became kind of a model for this work.

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