Berendt reads his own nonfiction exploration of the seamy side of Venice with an insider's hushed tones, chronicling the life and times of the city's movers and shakers like a naughty child sharing an overheard secret. Following up his similar study of Savannah in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has cobbled together a series of entertaining tales of the legendary canal city, ranging from the squabbles of Venetian fund-raisers to the fire in the Venice Opera House. Like a cocktail-party raconteur with a particularly juicy story to tell, Berendt twists his listeners' ears with his book's seamless string of Venice-themed misbehavior and decadence. Only occasionally overemoting, Berendt mostly maintains the proper tone of high-society gossip delivered succinctly. Berendt's intimate voice helps to tie together the disparate strands of his sometimes-sprawling book. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover (Reviews, July 18). (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In a style reminiscent of his mega-best seller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt replaces Savannah, GA, with Venice, Italy. Midnight had just enough creative writing to call it a work of fiction; City is unabashedly nonfiction and needs no embellishments to present listeners with a Byzantine look at a lovely, magical, troubled, and challenged city that is in all ways unique. Arriving in Venice in 1996, shortly after a suspicious fire destroyed the spectacular Fenice Opera House, Berendt attempts to understand the impact the fire has had on the people of Venice and finds himself falling into one rabbit hole after another. His Venice resembles a utopia created by Hieronymus Bosch: every lead results in yet another discovery of why this incredible city is a prosperous asylum being loved to death by its inmates. Holter Graham adds greatly to the enjoyment of this multilayered book with his impeccable pronunciation of Italian and his energetic reading of a difficult, often dense, contemporary classic. Midnight created a legion of Berendt readers, and City will not disappoint them. Recommended for large collections.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.