Martha Schoolman (review date 15 October 1993)
SOURCE: A review of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in Booklist, Vol. 90, No. 4, October 15, 1993, pp. 413-14.
[In the following review, Schoolman offers a positive assessment of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.]
[John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story] is a wonderfully subtle and well-told story of life in Savannah, Georgia, during the eight years the New York-based Esquire magazine columnist spent there as an "experiment in bi-urban living." It is an old saw that the Deep South is populated exclusively by faded beauty queens, con men, eccentric socialites, and a skele-ton in every closet, but Berendt manages to tread on the edges of the stereotype without caricature or condescension. "Always stick around for one more drink," one of the local characters advises him early in the book. "That's when things happen. That's when you find out everything you want to know." Berendt not only takes the drink but is game for every half-baked errand he is asked to perform, always with excellent narrative results. Perhaps one of the things that make this nonfiction work unique is that its plot centers on a murder, but Berendt takes his sweet time getting around to that fact, allowing the reader to be as surprised as he must have been watching the events unfold. Midnight is a solidly rewarding read.