Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

John Bernherdt • 1994

What is the goal of this book? What is its thesis?

You might argue "it does not need to have a thesis or goal, it merely needs to be true" — but this book clearly was not strongly interested in truth. Events are re-arranged and embellished for narrative convenience; characters are diminished into caricature.

Which arrives at what I think the goal of this book is, which is to be entertaining. There's nothing wrong with that goal, but — I didn't find the book entertaining! It felt...sneering and ungripping, except with its depictions of the Savannah landscape, which I desperately now wish to visit.



Dr. Lindsley told me that an old house will defeat you if you try to restore it all at once—from roof to windows, weather-boarding, jacking it up, central heating, wiring. You must think of doing one thing at a time. First you say to yourself: Today I am going to think about leveling off the sills. And you get all the sills leveled. Then you turn your mind to the weatherboarding, and gradually you do all the weatherboarding. Then you consider the windows. Just one window at a time. That window right there. You ask yourself, ‘What’s wrong with that part of that window?’ You must do it in sections, because that’s the way it was built. And then suddenly you find the whole thing completed. Otherwise, it will defeat you.
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