g&g reads

John Berendt Reflects on Thirty Years of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Watch the author’s conversation at the G&G offices

Two men sit at a table during an interview in a rustic office.

Photo: MKMc Photography

John Berendt (left) and editor in chief David DiBenedetto.


In the 1980s in Savannah, the journalist John Berendt would tell locals he was writing a book about their city. “And they would say, ‘Well, why don’t you come for cocktails?’” Berendt recently told a packed audience in Charleston, South Carolina. “We would talk and drink…and the sun would go down…And I got what I wanted, eventually. Every time.”

In a conversation with G&G editor in chief David DiBenedetto, who is a native of Savannah, Berendt reflected on the success of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, his landmark nonfiction novel. Published in 1994, the work weaves together the true tale of a murder and unforgettable characters like the Lady Chablis, all set against the backdrop of Savannah’s legendary parties, cemeteries, and antiques-filled mansions.

“It just burst out of the gates in the first week,” Berendt told the audience. “I have been extremely lucky, I have to say. People say, ‘How do you account for the success of Midnight?’ I say, ‘A large part of it is luck.’”

A man signs a copy of a book on a green table

Photo: MKMc Photography

Berendt signs copies for readers.

The book spent 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (still the record for a hardcover) and then went on to become a film directed by Clint Eastwood. It will also soon become a Broadway musical.

In a video of the interview, hear Berendt chat about how he got access to sources, what he loves about Savannah, and his favorite memories to mark thirty years since Midnight’s publication.

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