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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Storyby John Berendt
Synopses & Reviews
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of non-fiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the 'soul of pampered self-absorption'; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight.
These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
"Mr. Berendt's writing is elegant and wickedly funny, and his eye for telling details is superb." New York Times Book Review
"Stylish, brilliant, hilarious, and coolhearted." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] wonderfully subtle and well-told story....Midnight is a solidly rewarding read." Booklist
"The Williams trials...are lively matches between dueling attorneys fought with shifting evidence, and they serve as both theme and anchor to Berendt's illuminating and captivating travelogue." Publishers Weekly
"Forceful, clear, gripping, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is the best non-fiction novel since In Cold Blood and a lot more entertaining, since Berendt's book has everything going for it — snobbism, ruthless power, voodoo, local color, and a totally evil estheticism. I read it till dawn." Edmund White
The enormously engaging account of life and death in secluded and hauntingly beautiful Savannah, Georgia, continues to take America by storm.
About the Author
The son of two writers, John Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York. He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, where he worked on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon. After graduating in 1961, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. Berendt has written for David Frost and Dick Cavett, was editor of New York magazine from 1977 to 1979, and wrote a monthly column for Esquire from 1982 to 1994. Since the publication and unprecedented success of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has become a Savannah celebrity and was even presented with the key to the city.
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