Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #77: The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt


I have yet to read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is probably Berendt’s more famous book, but I’m definitely going to make an effort to seek it out. I really loved The City of Falling Angels — the writing felt like someone sitting down and telling you a story, and what a story it was!

The City of Falling Angels is nonfiction, and Berendt makes it clear that every word is truth. The book begins as Venice is burning — in 1996 the Fenice opera house caught fire and burned to the ground. Berendt’s previously planned vacation landed him in Venice three days later, and he ended up staying for months as he investigated the fire — not only the cause, but the repercussions. In the process, he learns quite a bit about how different Venice is from just about anywhere else in the world, and why.

It’s a really interesting book, especially to someone who took a class specifically on Venetian art in college. Berendt’s writing style is very casual, which makes it a breeze to read. Highly recommended!

The Mama’s #CBR5 Review #66: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt

midnightI first read Midnight about ten years ago, maybe more, but two recent trips to Savannah prompted a re-read. We’re all familiar (either through the book or Clint Eastwood’s film) of the story of Jim Williams, Danny Hansford, and the incomparable Lady Chablis, but with each reading (and each visit), I fall in love with this odd little city a bit more.

For the uninitiated, Berendt’s tale begins with him meeting Jim Williams, an antique dealer, to interview him for a piece in a magazine. While in Savannah, Berendt becomes intrigued with the city, falling in love with it, and eventually renting a small apartment in the historic district. He meets several of the city’s movers and shakers, and quite a few of its less prominent citizens. Fast forward a few years, and Danny Handford is dead, Jim Williams is on trial, and the entire town is abuzz.

Savannah is a strange, beautiful, wonderful place. It’s ancient by American standards, settled in 1733, and at times it gives the air that it hasn’t changed much. Berendt captures the magic of the city, painting not just each character with perfect, vivid strokes, but painting the town as well.

Lady Astor is rumored to have remarked about Savannah that the city is “like a beautiful woman with a dirty face”. I’ve always thought a little dirt kept things interesting. Berendt captures Savannah, her beauty, and her flaws with simple, lyrical perfection.

(And for those wondering, Lady Chablis is still performing once a month, and she is every bit as fierce and fabulous as she was in the film.)

Read more here…

faintingviolet’s #CBRV review #1: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

The novel’s full title is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story and I find that to be a telling detail about John Berendt’s work. This is a story that shows many, but not all, of the facets that make Savannah a unique place. Savannah has been haunting me the past few years. Several family members and friends have made the sojourn to the famous city and all have the same report: “you have to go”. I believe that John Berendt would agree after his 8 years of living on and off in the sequestered city.

Read more here.

On a separate note from the book (and even the movie it was eventually turned into) I want to talk for a moment about e-readers. I have an early model Nook – the kind that uses e-ink technology and is not backlit. Whenever I read a book on it, instead of a paper copy borrowed from the library or purchased in a moment of indiscretion, I read much slower than average. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon or is it just me?