|Title: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story||Author: John Berendt|
|Pages: 386||Genre: Nonfiction|
|Recommended: If you like colorful characters in an equally emgrossing setting.|
|Song: The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band|
I first heard about this book a long, long time ago in a college classroom in Tempe. The course was “creative nonfiction” and we were learning how to make our lives seem more interesting in narrative.
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” was on the recommended reading list, along with books by Truman Capote and Annie Dillard. While it is told in the form of a novel, it actually chronicles real events.
This book has two major things going for it: the setting and the characters.
If everything I’ve read is true, Savanah, Georgia has magic seeping from the ground. Berendt paints a vivid picture, not only of the beautiful landscape, but of Savannah’s natives and their culture. It seems like a town that captures the benefits of the outside world while taking preference with its old ways.
It’s a place where some people feel like royalty, and everyone has a strong personality. It’s a place where you can attend a Christian church in the morning and meet up with your voodoo witch at Midnight.
In short, I’ve just got to go there!
In fact, after the publication of this book, tourism in Savannah grew exponentially. Power of books, y’all! The haunting image on the book cover is of the “Bird Girl” statue in Bonaventure Cemetary.
In this book, you meet both men and women who enjoy living in the gray area of morality. There’s the lawyer whose fiancee could marry him…if he ever turned in her divorce paper work. There’s the inventor who has a vial of poison that could kill that whole town…and he knows where to get more. There’s Minerva, a root doctor who can perform spells for you. There’s also a guy who owns the famed “Uga”, an english bulldog and mascot of the University of Georgia.
Then there’s the Lady Chablis. The story was just okay until she pranced into it. The Lady Chablis is a transgender performer who loves being fabulous. Again, she’s real and she played herself in the movie version of this story.
Someone murdered someone else and got off for it. This could happen anywhere, but in this town with these people it’s much more entertaining.