Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

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Product Description

Voodoo. Decadent socialites packing Lugars. Cotillions. With towns like Savannah, Georgia, who needs Fellini? Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes two narrative strands - each worthy of its own book - and weaves them together to make a single fascinating tale. The first is author John Berendt's loving depiction of the characters and rascals that prowled Savannah in the eight years it was his home-away-from-home. 'Eccentrics thrive in Savannah,' he writes, and proves the point by introducing Luther Diggers, a thwarted inventor who just might be plotting to poison the town's water supply; Joe Odom, a jovial jackleg lawyer and squatter nonpareil; and, most memorably, the Lady Chablis, whom you really should meet for yourself. Then, on May 2, 1981, the book's second story line commences, when Jim Williams, a wealthy antique dealer and Savannah's host with the most, kills his 'friend' Danny Hansford. (If those quotes make you suspect something, you should.) Was it self-defense, as Williams claimed - or murder? The book sketches four separate trials, during which the dark side of this genteel party town is well and truly plumbed.

Editorial Reviews

Steamy Savannah--and the almost unbelievable assortment of colorful eccentrics that the city seems to nurture--are minutely and wittily observed here. In the early 1980's, Berendt (former editor of New York Magazine) realized that for the price of a nouvelle cuisine meal, he could fly to just about any city in the US that intrigued him. In the course of these travels, he 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 ``walking streak of sex''--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, who likes it to be known that he has a supply of poison so lethal that he could wipe out every person in the city if he chose to slip it into the water supply; 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. Showing a talent for penetrating any social barrier, Berendt gets himself invited to the tony Married Women's Club; the rigidly proper Black Debutantes' Ball (which Chablis crashes); the inner sanctum of power-lawyer Sonny Seiler; and one of Williams's fabled Christmas parties (the one for a mixed group; the author opts out of the following evening's ``bachelors only'' f te). 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. Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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