Review: Deliverance by James Dickey

DeliveranceDeliverance by James Dickey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is just unbelievably good. It has an incredible balance of stunning imagery of the pristine backwoods of Georgia and light playing off that fateful river, and the stark simplicity of violence. There is not a wasted word in this book and, as the saying goes, I really could not put it down.

View all my reviews


10 Movies That Will Give You a Serious Case of Wanderlust

We all know that movies are a great way to escape reality and travel to new places without leaving your couch. But we also know that it’s infinitely better to get out and really explore those places on your own. Here are 10 movies that do an amazing job of capturing the beauty of the world, the excitement of travel, and will make you want to get out there see it all for yourself.

Wild (2014)

Wild is a fantastic travel movie on several levels. Not only is it a gorgeously filmed love letter to the Pacific Crest Trail and the jaw-dropping beauty of the western United States, it’s also an homage to powerful women and free spirits everywhere. As you join the main character Cheryl on her gruelling trek from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods between Washington and Oregon, it makes you want to strap on a pair of boots yourself and hit the trail to see what you’re really made of.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Everything that Wes Anderson touches turns perfectly picturesque and tantalizing, but the Darjeeling Limited is especially profound in its loving and enchanting depiction of chaotic and colourful India. With the romance of train travel, the delicacy of the Indian musical score, and the indescribable beauty of the passing countryside, this film is an incredible ode to an incredible country.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

es, most of this documentary takes place in an underground subway station. But travel is about more than pretty places–travel is about people, culture, food, sharing, risk-taking, and learning. And Jiro Dreams of Sushi is about all of this and more. This close-up look at the art of sushi and the power of food and family in Japanese culture is enchanting in its heady mix of tender craftsmanship and tough love. Never has Japan seemed so exotically foreign and so intimately universal.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Before Che Guevara was a polarizing revolutionary and bereted poster-child (t-shirt child?) for the communist movement, he was, like many of us, a wandering 20-something looking for answers on the road. This cinematic re-telling of a true story is a classic road trip movie, full of wrong turns, unexpected discoveries, and really, really attractive actors. As Che and his friend travel across South America on the back of the motorcycle, it’s impossible not to fall in love with each country they cross through and each culture they encounter. It’s the kind of broke, broken-down freedom that we all long to experience while we’re young.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

I recently travelled to Iceland, and I heard a whole lot of people talking about the “Walter Mitty peninsula.” At the time I was confused, as this is nowhere on any map of Iceland, but now that I’ve seen the movie, oh boy is it understandable. Once you get over the fact that it’s an Adam Sandler movie, you’ll see that the main character of Walter Mitty is actually the incredible and otherworldly landscapes of Western Iceland. If this movie doesn’t convince you that Iceland is a fairy-land that you have to visit before you die, nothing will.

The Beach (2000)

This 2000 film starring a wide-eyed baby DiCaprio is a little dated, but it’s premise about a legendary pristine beach is still the stuff gap year dreams are made of. The movie explores many aspects of Thailand–the stunning nature, the seedy cities, and the dark reality of consumer culture and irresponsible tourism are all present. But the star of the show is really the Beach itself–Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay, a breathtaking beacon of blinding white sand, sparkling turquoise waters, and verdant limestone karsts that will continue to call your name no matter how bad things get for little Leo.

Into the Wild (2007)

To die would be an awfully big adventure. Yes, this one has a sad ending. But for all the brutality of an Alaskan winter, the message of this movie shines clear: not all those who wander are lost, and there’s a part of humanity that you will never truly discover unless you head into the wild. As you watch Alexander Supertramp commune with nature, hitch-hiking his way through impossibly beautiful landscapes and living off the land, his eyes sparkling with tears at the confounding beauty of a grizzly bear in her natural habitat, it is you are reminded of how much beauty there is in the world if you are willing to get out there and find it.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Who hasn’t fantasized about meeting their soul mate on a train in Europe? This subtly beautiful film about love and travel is dedicated to just one night in Vienna, as American traveller Jesse and his new French acquaintance Céline wander the city and talk to each other about life, philosophy, and simple get-to-know you banalities, quietly falling in love under the Austrian stars. Recommended for romantics and realists alike, this movie is a moving and distinctly un-cheesy masterpiece of human interest.

Paris, Je T’Aime (2006)

This unique movie is made up of short films, all directed by different people, with the city of Paris as their only common thread. From first dates to childhood bullying to vampires, this movie has it all. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the diverse streets of Paris through the eyes of all of the amazingly different directors who all find something irresistibly enchanting about the City of Lights.

Chef (2014)

This is another classic road trip movie–with a twist. A New York chef who has fallen from grace after a high-end restaurant meltdown buys a food truck and hits the road, wandering through the different cultures and cuisines of the United States. Eat first, or you’ll be salivating through all one hour and 55 minutes of this charming foodie film.

With this arsenal of movies, even the ultimate homebody will come down with some serious wanderlust. I mean, I love Netflix as much as the next guy, but nothing compares to getting out there and experiencing the world for yourself–all the tastes, smells, touches, and emotions of travel are something that the cinema can never truly give you.

Originally written for the Happy Nomad:

10 Books That Will Give You a Serious Case of Wanderlust

Sometimes all you want is to lock the doors and curl up in your own home, with a cup of tea and a good book. But then there are those times that are so fantastic in their adventures and imagery of unknown and far-off lands that it’s all you can do to keep yourself from trading in your apartment for a backpack and hitting the road.

Be careful, because these ten books will give you a serious and incurable case of wanderlust.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

This book, recently turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, is the memoir of a woman who, lost in life, found herself on a months-long solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, from Southern California all the way up through the Pacific Northwest. This book is full of amazing imagery that will make you yearn for ferns, forests, and fog, as well as emotional richness that will touch your heart.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

Yes, this story doesn’t end well for its traveller protagonist. But even though Chris McCandless was ultimately defeated by the harsh Alaskan wilderness, the purity of his connection to nature and his love of wandering is something that is truly beautiful and inspiring. As travellers, we all aspire to be as in touch with the world and the wilderness as Alexander Supertramp.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Fantastical and colourful, Roberts’ semi-autobiographical journey from Australian jailbreak to Mumbai slums is an enchanting read. His descriptions of incredible Indian culture, social structure, countryside, and vitality are so vivid and engrossing that you may find yourself booking a ticket to Mumbai before you’ve even finished the book (to be fair, it is nearly 1,000 pages).

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This ultimate road trip saga, now considered to be the quintessential novel of the beat generation, was written in three weeks of free-associating fever dream on a 120-foot long scroll–single space, no paragraph breaks. Kerouac’s writing style reflects the madness of the beat generation, scored by hot jazz, rampant drug use, and lots of burned rubber. It’s impossible not to be infected by the frenetic and powerful energy of these drunken, genius vagabonds and their undeniable way with words.

Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham

Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham

Part of the reason that this book was so impactful to me is that I read it in Vietnam, on a trip strikingly similar to that of the book. I realise that this kind of reading is not exactly realistic for everyone, but I can assure you that regardless of location, your heart will not escape these pages untouched. Pham returns to Vietnam for the first time since his family fled as refugees to bicycle the length of the country, connect with his past, and understand his present. It’s a beautiful tribute to the amazing people and countryside of Vietnam, the resilience of the human spirit, and the heartbreaking beauty of multiculturalism.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This novel by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami does a beautiful job of describing both the controlled chaos of Tokyo streets as well as the bucolic quietude of the Japanese countryside. His relatable and vulnerable characters, delicate imagery, and simple writing style will capture your heart and leave you daydreaming about Japan.

America by Jean Baudrillard

America by Jean Baudrillard

This rambling post-modern take on ‘80s Americana is a beautiful read for any roadtrip enthusiast. Baudrillard, a French intellectual, applies his sense of wonder and analytics to diners, dust, and the American dream in this gorgeous soliloquy. America may be baffling, but it sure is beautiful.

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

This semi-autobiographical novel follows a group of writers and poets through the bustling cafés and bars of 1970’s Mexico City and through the pursuits of their dreamy, literary compatriots across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. From the first section, “Mexicans Lost in Mexico” to the last road-tripping pages through the deserts of Sonora, this book will make you want to drop everything, declare yourself a Visceral Realist, and lose yourself in the pursuit of enlightenment, unmapped travel, and the perfect poem.

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

I’m a sucker for a western, and All the Pretty Horses is the ultimate. This novel of hard riding, dusty roadside diners, Mexican ranchos, and cowboy grit is irresistible in its brilliantly-constructed simplicity and breathtaking imagery of the barren and enchanting Chihuahua Desert.

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins may be from the dry and empty plains of Nevada, but she, and her state, are anything but boring. This collection of short stories about the Battle Born State begins with a piece about her father, the real-life right hand man of Charles Manson, but quickly moves on to intricately constructed and beautifully imagined stories about isolation, hardship, and the austerely sublime beauty of the Nevada desert.


Originally Published over at the Happy Nomad: