Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtRobert Downey Jr. Sign in. A visiting city reporter's John Cusack's assignment suddenly revolves around the murder trial of a local millionaire Kevin Spacey , whom he befriends. This panoramic tale of Savannah, Georgia's eccentricities focuses on a murder and the subsequent trial of James Arthur Williams Kevin Spacey : self made man, art collector, antiques dealer, bon vivant, and semi-closeted homosexual. John Kelso John Cusack a magazine reporter, finds himself in Savannah amidst the beautiful architecture and odd doings to write a feature on one of William's famous Christmas parties.
Author John Berendt interview on "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1994)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Analysis
The book, Berendt's first, was published in The book was subsequently made into Clint Eastwood 's film adaptation. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is atmospherically Deep South coastal Savannah , Georgia, and Beaufort , South Carolina and Southern Gothic in tone, depicting a wide range of eccentric personalities in and around the city of Savannah , Georgia. The central narrative concerns the killing of Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute characterized as "a good time not yet had by all" by an important Savannah socialite , by respected antiques dealer Jim Williams. This results in four murder trials, with the fourth ending in acquittal after the judge finally agreed to a change of venue to move the case away from the Savannah jury pool.
Clint Eastwood's film is a determined attempt to be faithful to the book's spirit, but something ineffable is lost just by turning on the camera: Nothing we see can be as amazing as what we've imagined. The book tells the story of a New York author who visits Savannah, Ga. Gradually he meets the local fauna, including a gay antiques dealer, a piano bar owner of no fixed abode, a drag queen, a voodoo priestess, a man who keeps flies on leashes, a man who walks an invisible dog and the members of the Married Women's Card Club. The plot grows labyrinthine after the antiques dealer is charged with the murder of a young hustler. Berendt introduces these people and tells their stories in a bemused, gossipy fashion; he's a natural storyteller who knows he has great stories to tell, and relishes the telling. He is not, however, really a major player in the book, and the movie makes a mistake by assigning its central role to a New York writer, now named John Kelso, through whose hands all of the action must pass. There is nothing wrong with the performance by John Cusack except that it is unnecessary; if John Lee Hancock's screenplay had abandoned the Kelso character and just jumped into the midst of Savannah's menagerie with both feet, the movie might have had more energy and color.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. And, like Truman Capote, that meta-narrative is also impacted by the fact that the writer who has come to tell the tale is viewed as a cultural interloper. The disconnect that exists between the personality of the writer and the personality of the community in which the notorious murder took place becomes an issue which becomes part of the fabric of the larger narrative. For Capote, the murder in a small Kansas town was about the interlopers like himself. Berendt, by contrast, delivers a story which radiates outward from the principal players in the murder to investigate the metropolitan milieu populated by characters of ever-increasing eccentricity. Indeed, a very strong argument can be made that the single most important character to be found within the pages of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is neither the victim nor killer, but the city of Savannah itself.