Monday, November 18, 2002

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I have just finished reading John Berendt's modern classic "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", a non-fiction account about the town of Savannah, Georgia. I once borrowed the tape of the movie version in which John Cussack starred but I fell asleep midway into the opening sequences. I had totally forgotten about the movie until I chanced upon a nice hardbound copy of the book at a local bookstore and realized the book is a lot better than the movie.

My creative writing teacher, NVM Gonzalez, always told us that it was always necessary to put local color in one's work because it is what defines good literature. True enough, the book is steaming with local color. It has great characters and a setting that makes me want to pack up and migrate to the US of A. The little lawyerly story about the trial of an antique collector who killed his gay lover was just a bonus. It is just a detail in a small corner in this large mural of an enchanting town peopled with high society hob-nobbers, hustlers, cross-dressers, hotshot lawyers and prosecutors, coffee shop weirdos, lounge musicians and voodoo practitioners. It is also quite a riot that the story ends with an acquittal of the antique collector (after three mistrials) that was won, perhaps not by the lawyers, but by the voodoo practitioner!

Who was it who said that great art always leaves you with a wound that never heals? I have been so fascinated with this book that I even used the town's name in a corporation I incorporated for a cousin "Savannah Holdings. Corporation." I have also proposed a deal with a client about historical restoration of landmark places in the Philippines. No takers yet But who knows? The book will sit along well with my most cherished editions of "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo and "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.