City of Falling Angels
by John Berendt
1. The criticism about this book was that it didn’t hold up to comparison with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. While I agree, I think City of Falling Angels has its own charm. I enjoy Berendt’s meaty descriptions and skillful method for telling stories. In particular, he’s very good at telling both sides of dramatic events, often shaping his tale to make the reader oscillate between one side and another. For example, his story of the death of a popular Venician poet involved strongarm tactics, shady publishers, shady maybe-hustlers, and a hanging-or-murder. At the beginning I found myself, duped by Berendt’s careful style, siding wholeheartedly with one man, a much-harrangued friend of the deceased poet. As the story emerges, however, we come to wonder about his motives, and the character of the poet twists and turns. By the end, we side with the friendly grocer, hardly remembering the accusations of hustling and blackmail slung earlier in the story.
It would be worth photocopying a chapter or two of this book for a course in creative non-fiction. Berendt is a master of real-life characters and their stories.
2. As I listened, I couldn’t help but imagine John Cusak roaming the streets of Venice, not this guy:
On the other hand, I guess Cusak wasn’t terrible casting 10 years ago when Midnight was written:
And I just noticed, Berendt is wearing an open-collar white shirt in both photos. I think it’s the same shirt.
3. Second audiobook in a row to mention oak park:
Listened to in audiobook form.