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James Dickey Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Poetry Books

Drowning with Others (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Buckdancer's Choice (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
Poems, 1957-67 (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Central Motion (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Night Hurdling (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
From the Green Horseshoes (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Eagle's Mile (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Selected Poems (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death, and the Day's Light (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Georgia Voices(2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Flight or Fright(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

James Dickey is a poet and bestselling author from Atlanta that is best known for the novel “Deliverance.”

He was born in 1923 in Atlanta to Eugene Dickey and Maibelle Swift. Dickey would spend his earlier years in Atlanta and during those early years, he went to North Fulton High School.

In 1942 he enrolled at Clemson University but only spent a semester there before he quit to go join the Army Air Corps. While he spent more than a year training to become a pilot, he was ultimately unsuccessful and would instead become a navigator.
In 1945, he went to the Philippines where he would become a member of the 418th Night Fighter Squadron after which he flew missions in Japan and Okinawa. He rose fast through the ranks earning five bronze stars and becoming a second lieutenant.
Following the war, he enrolled at the Nashville, Tennessee-based Vanderbilt University where he graduated with a master’s degree in English. It was at the university that he began attempting to pen some poetry.

In 1948, he got married to Maxine Syerson and together they got two children Kevin and Christopher. He also taught at Rice University as an English instructor and at the University of Florida until 1955 when he resigned.

After resigning from Florida University under a cloud, James Dickey got employment with the Atlanta-based McCann-Erickson where he was employed writing advertising copy.

It was during this time that he worked hard to become the best poet he could be. Soon after, he published some of his poems in journals such as the “Virginia Quarterly,” the “Sewanee Review,” and “Poetry.”

He achieved even more success in 1960 when he published his first poetry volume and was featured in “Into the Stone and Other Poems.” Given his success, he decided to leave the advertising firm and went back to writing and teaching full-time.
Dickey would also become something of a celebrity and began touring the United States arguing for the importance of poetry and reading his poems.

In 1968, he was made professor of English and poet in residence at the University of Carolina where he spent much of his latter years. It was while he was teaching at the university that his wife Maxine Dickey died following a lengthy illness.
Two months after the death of his wife, he married Deborah Dodson his former student. While it was a productive marriage it was very tumultuous and never provided the stability he needed to write his fiction consistently.

Much of the better work that James Dickey produced was from the earliest fifteen years of his career. Much of this work was in the collections of poems he produced over a decade between 1957 to 1967.

In 1970, he published his first long-form fiction work Deliverance which brought a degree of notoriety and popular success. This was the turning point for the author both artistically and personally.

Dickey then started writing more abstract, less spontaneous, and more experimental poetry which was not so popular. He would become an alcoholic which resulted in the dissolution of his first marriage.

His last years were not the best of his professional career even as things on the personal front also deteriorated. While he was still a lecturer at the University of South Carolina, he was no longer a prominent poet and writer.
Even though he stopped drinking in 1994 he had already been afflicted with lung fibrosis and liver disease and died in 1997.

“Buckdancer’s Choice” was the winner of the National Book Award Dickey Prize for poetry in 1965. It was this novel that opened doors for him and go him a job as a consultant and specialist at the Library of Congress with a focus on poetry.
Nonetheless, he still remained an obscure poet for about five years after that. The work comes with “The Fiend” and “Fire Bombing,” two poems deemed the best James Dickey ever wrote in his long and illustrious career.
Playing with line breaks which are inserted in the middle of lines, you often pause more than is usually the case. This places an emphasis on images and also forces you to reflect more on the poem than you typically would.
In addition to these two novels are many others written in a regular style that are just as powerful as they combine revulsion and enchantment.

Just like how Tennyson’s work was once considered a mark of gentility in Victorian England, the same could have been said of James Dickey’s “Buckdancer’s Choice.”
In fact, some commentators have said that the work has some of the best American poetry to be published after the Second World War.

“Deliverance” by James Dickey has been called a study into the lingering elements of primal instincts and primitive urges that almost all human beings have.

The author comes up with dangerous situations which he uses to experiment with how normal human beings can shed their civilization when faced with mortal threats.

The lead characters of the work are a graphic artist named Ed Gentry, an outdoorsman named Lewis Medlock a business executive named Drew Ballinger, and an insurance agent named Bobby Trippe.
The four middle-aged city dwellers have been having a feeling of stagnation in their professional and personal life and decide to canoe down a river valley in the wild reaches of northern Georgia.
Ed Gentry describes the happenings and scenery of their adventure and his own professional disillusionment. Isolated in the wilderness they begin rethinking their quest for adventure and freedom.
They at first find it difficult to adopt the survivalist mentality needed for the outdoors.

Things turn really nasty when the weather changes and the quest for survival is full of all manner of moral dilemmas, tragedy, and violence that transforms the men into primal hunters.

“Sorties” by James Dickey is a work of essays and journals that showcases some of the best creativity by the author.

It is from these that we get to get inside the full dimension of Dickey with the perceptions and thoughts that lie just outside his most popular poems.
In this work, the author brings together the contents of a journal that Dickey kept for several years. Including half a dozen essays on the creative process and poetry.

The book provides some interesting insights into the mind of James Dickey as he considers and alights on a range of themes ranging from his guitar playing, pride over his accomplishments, the onset of old age, and the plotting of a new novel.
Through the book, it is evident that Napoleon can be blunt in his opinions when he calls authors such as Norman Mailer second-rate authors.
However, it is not all negative as we also get to see his capacity for empathy as he talks about his father’s long illness.

Book Series In Order » Authors » James Dickey

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