Friday, January 11, 2013

Evan S. Connell, acclaimed author of ‘Bridges’ twin novels, ‘Custer’ account, dies at 88 - The Washington Post

Evan S. Connell, acclaimed author of ‘Bridges’ twin novels, ‘Custer’ account, dies at 88 - The Washington Post:

"The acclaimed author, whose literary explorations ranged from Depression-era Kansas City in the twin novels “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge” to Custer’s last stand, “Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn,” was found dead Thursday Jan. 10, 2013, in his Santa Fe "

A literary giant has passed. Never getting the wider recognition he deserved, Connell is beloved by many serious writers in America, I think. He was a writer's writer. I was introduced to him via Mrs. Bridge, which we studied in Robert Lacy's novel writing class at the University of Oregon in the late 1960s. It remains my favorite American novel. His non-fiction book on Custer is remarkable and was the best selling thing he wrote. But Connell refused to be classified and refused to play the literary role expected by the culture. He didn't teach, he didn't give readings. He once said that he preferred to be anonymous. And so he was. A huge talent, a literary giant, anonymous.

From The Paris Review:

In Memoriam: Evan S. Connell, 1924–2013

January 10, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
We are sad to learn that Evan Connell has died. An early contributor to The Paris Review, Connell was and is a quiet hero of contemporary literature. His novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge have been cited as a crucial influence by writers as different as Lydia Davis, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith. In his history books—Son of the Morning Star (about General Custer) and Deus Lo Volt! (about the Crusades)—his poems, and his essays, he sang the glories of lost civilizations and unearthed the ruins at our feet. Connell delighted in tales of folly, of doomed experiments, but his own experiments bore fruits, plural, for no two are alike. We regret that Connell was unable to finish his Art of Fiction interview for the magazine; stay tuned in the next few days for selections from his work as it appeared inThe Paris Review.
Trivia: early in his career, Connell added Jr. to his name. This was how he presented himself on the cover of the novel we studied. Later he dropped the Jr.

From The Los Angeles Times:
Unlike Custer, Connell shied from publicity. He did not give readings or teach college courses, hated crowds and was loath to be photographed. He did not own a phone until he was 50 and took his television out of the closet only for football games.
Like I say, a writer's writer.
"He always wrote about what he was interested in, not what would make money," Waller says of her uncle.

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