K's Reviews > Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: readablenonfiction, should-ve-been-shorter
Read from July 09 to 23, 2011

This was actually an interesting experiment. I started out listening to an audio download of this book, and found myself struggling with audiobook ADD. I then ended up with a print copy and decided to read it visually and found the book more enjoyable and easier to stay with. Maybe I just do better with print books, or maybe it's this book in particular (or this genre) that's easier to read than to listen to.

Whatever the case, I ended up enjoying Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for the most part. My sense is that there were two shorter books here blended into one -- a love letter to the city of Savannah and its many eccentric inhabitants, and the true crime story of Jim Williams, a Savannahian accused of murdering his sometime teenage gay lover.

The descriptions of Savannah were engaging and I actually found myself fantasizing about a trip there, which is saying a lot. Having said that, I didn't find most of the characters as interesting as Berendt seemed to find them. I suspect it's the "you had to be there" factor; these individuals may be quirky and amusing in person but I didn't find most of them all that entertaining to read about. The notable exception to that was "the Lady Chablis," foul-mouthedness notwithstanding. Those descriptions totally cracked me up.

The murder mystery was kind of interesting, although it could have been more interesting had it been more tightly written and less drawn-out. Having been promised a true crime story, I found myself getting impatient as I waded through lengthy descriptions of only mildly interesting eccentrics waiting for the story to start. Once it did start it offered some interesting twists and turns but didn't seem worthy of a book to me; it would have worked great as a long magazine article.

Basically, my verdict is that although this could have been a lot shorter and probably wasn't worthy of a book, it was interesting and entertaining enough.
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Reading Progress

28.0% "Not sure how I feel about this. Sometimes it's engaging, and sometimes it's boring. Probably 3 stars."
07/13/2011 "This should be an interesting experiment. After listening to a lot of this on audio, I ended up with a print copy and decided to read it visually instead. I ended up starting over, and I can see that I missed a lot of it on audio. I'm also enjoying it more."
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