Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  
The cover of the 1994 novel
The cover of the 1994 novel, which features the Bird Girl sculpture.
Author(s)John Berendt
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Nonfiction novel
PublisherRandom House
Publication dateJanuary 1994
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages400 pp
ISBN0-679-42922-0
OCLC Number27975809
Dewey Decimal975.8/724 20
LC ClassificationF294.S2 B48 1994
 
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  
The cover of the 1994 novel
The cover of the 1994 novel, which features the Bird Girl sculpture.
Author(s)John Berendt
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Nonfiction novel
PublisherRandom House
Publication dateJanuary 1994
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages400 pp
ISBN0-679-42922-0
OCLC Number27975809
Dewey Decimal975.8/724 20
LC ClassificationF294.S2 B48 1994

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a non-fiction work by John Berendt. Published in 1994, the book was Berendt's first, and became a The New York Times bestseller for 216 weeks following its debut.[1]

The book was subsequently made into a 1997 movie, directed by Clint Eastwood and based loosely on Berendt's story. While some mistakenly believe that the book coined the phrase "two tears in a bucket" (basically meaning "life goes on"), this phrase has been in use far longer (e.g., House Party).

Contents

The book

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is atmospheric and Southern Gothic in tone, depicting a wide range of eccentric Savannah personalities.

The action that serves as a catalyst in the book is the killing of Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute (characterized as "a good time not yet had by all") by respected antiques dealer Jim Williams. Four murder trials resulted, with the final one ending in acquittal after the judge finally agreed to move the case away from the Savannah jury pool. The book characterizes the killing as the result of a lovers' quarrel, not a pre-meditated murder. The death occurred in Williams' home, which was originally built by an ancestor of songwriter and Savannah native Johnny Mercer.

The book also highlights many other notable Savannah residents, most notably The Lady Chablis, a preoperative transsexual woman and local drag queen and entertainer. Chablis provides both a Greek chorus of sorts as well as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious action.

The book's plot is based on real-life events that occurred in the 1980s and is classified as non-fiction. Because it reads like a novel (and rearranges the sequence of true events in time), it is sometimes referred to as a "non-fiction novel" or "faction", a sub-genre popularized by Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. (Booksellers generally feature the title in the "true crime" subsection.) It is among the most popular non-fiction releases of all time.

The title alludes to the hoodoo notion of "midnight", the period between the time for good magic and the time for evil magic, and "the garden of good and evil," which refers principally to Bonaventure Cemetery.

The famous Bird Girl statue, originally designed both as art and as a birdseed holder, was originally located at Bonaventure. A Savannah photographer, Jack Leigh, was commissioned to take a photograph for the cover of the book, and in so doing he created his now famous photograph of the statue. The Bird Girl was relocated in 1997 for display in the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah.

Awards

The book won the 1995 Boeke Prize, and was one of the finalists for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.[2]

See also

References

External links