Karin's Reviews > Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
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's review
Dec 10, 2007

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Excellent observation and storytelling skills; the first half as much more interesting than the second. Highly reminiscent of "The Orchid Thief," yet smoother, less theoretical, more personable. Both are books of non-fiction written by New Yorkers who are drawn to a community in the American South, and over the next few years become a part-time resident. There's almost a suggestion of the "other" in the descriptions of Southern Allure, as though it's not the PLACE the writers are drawn to as much as it is the mystique and romance Northerners imbue in Southern culture. Berendt's style was less stiffly pretentious, I thought, which made his character and his story more enjoyable and accessible. This comparison is fascinating as it raises the question: what *IS* non-fiction?
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Meika I still need to read this book for myself, but I'm wondering if you think the story ever gets further than the allure of Savannah... or if it always maintains the touristy facade? Even when I visited my sisters there, it seems like the whole downtown of Savannah IS fiction. The reality only shows itself when you get lost on a road that takes you through ghetto and housing project, and out to the army post where all the big box stores are.

Karin Good question. I'm not sure about the answer. I read it as an account of one guy's time in Savannah--not an account of SAVANNAH. I was more interested in the writing than in the subject. That said, my understanding is that this book spawned a huge tourist industry in Savannah. His account may be an accurate representation of the community pre-"Midnight"... Maybe the increase in popularity is testimony to the fascination Southern culture presents to Northerners.

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