Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", John Berendt

June 2nd, 2009 · No Comments · Travel

Midnight_in_the_Garden_of_Good_and_Evil_coverSynopsis: The true story of antiques, death, architecture, drugs, sodomy and intrigue in the hermetically sealed world of Savannah, Georgia. The truth is more morbid and melodramatic than fiction.

My Take: Framed around the shooting of rent-boy Danny Hansford in the ostentatious mansion of prominent antiques dealer and local socialite Jim Williams, this novel provides a canvas for a cavalcade of unique ‘Southern’ characters and their bizarre lives.

Largely because this book is narrated in the first person and the subject matter is so rich and plot driven, it wasn’t until I was half finished and happened to read the back cover synopsis that I realised that this was a true story told by a carpet bagging journalist (though I learn from Wikipedia that contrary to the book’s narrative, the author only came to Savannah a year after hearing of the incident that formed the basis of the book). The fact that this non-fiction book felt totally plausible as a murder mystery set in an exotic locale is a testament to both the author’s story telling ability and peculiar locals that he chronicles.

Highlight:

For me, the highlight of this book was the eerie/disturbing vibe that underpinned much of this story and was perfectly symbolised by its cover art. The now iconic photograph by Savannah local Jack Leigh of the Bird Girl statue in the atmospheric Bonaventure Cemetery, the “Garden of Good and Evil” referred to in the book’s title perfectly encapsulates the otherworldly hoodoo vibe that pervades the book.

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