Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
New York: Random House, c1994. Eighth Printing. Hardcover. 25 cm, 388 pages. Pencil erasure on front endpaper, DJ in plastic sleeve. Signed by the author. John Berendt (born December 5, 1939) is an American author, known for writing the best-selling non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. Berendt published Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1994 and became an overnight success; the book spent a record-breaking 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list -— still, to this day, the longest standing best seller of the Times. The story, unsettling and real, broke down the idea of the quintessential phenomenon of a true American city—only to reveal its quirks: its man walking an invisible dog; its voice of the drag queen; a high-society man in its elite community—all that somehow, unravels a murder mystery. Virtually seeming like a novel and reading like a tale, the nonfictional story is about the real-life events surrounding the murder trial of Jim Williams in Savannah, Georgia. This novel was later made into a movie. Derived from a Kirkus review: Steamy Savannah--and the almost unbelievable assortment of colorful eccentrics that the city seems to nurture--are minutely and wittily observed here. In the course of these travels, Berendt fell under the spell of Savannah, and moved there for a few years. Central to his story here is his acquaintance with Jim Williams, a Gatsby-like, newly moneyed antiques dealer, and Williams's sometime lover Danny Hansford, a volatile, dangerous young hustler whose fatal shooting by Williams obsesses the city. Other notable characters include Chablis, a show-stealing black drag queen; Joe Odom, cheerfully amoral impresario and restaurateur; Luther Driggers, inventor of the flea collar; and Minerva, a black occultist who works with roots and whom Williams hires to help deal with what the antiques dealer believes to be Hansford's vengeful ghost. The imprisonment and trial of Williams, and his surprising fate, form the narrative thread that stitches together this crazy quilt of oddballs, poseurs, snobs, sorceresses, and outlaws. Stylish, brilliant, hilarious, and coolhearted. Condition: Very good / very good.
Keywords: American South, Savannah, GA, Murder Trials, True Crime, Con Artist, Drag Queen, Journalists, Voodoo