Evan S. Connell

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Evan S. Connell
Born Evan Shelby Connell, Jr.
(1924-08-17)August 17, 1924
Kansas City, Missouri, US
Died January 10, 2013(2013-01-10) (aged 88)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Period 1957–2013
Genre Fiction, non-fiction
Subject George Armstrong Custer
Notable works Mrs. Bridge, Mr. Bridge, Son of the Morning Star

Evan Shelby Connell, Jr. (August 17, 1924 – January 10, 2013) was an American novelist, poet, and short story-writer. He also published under the name Evan S. Connell, Jr. His writing covered a variety of genres, although he has published most frequently in fiction.

In 2009, Connell was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, for lifetime achievement.[1] On April 23, 2010, he was awarded a Los Angeles Times Book Prize: the Robert Kirsch Award, for "a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition."[2]

Background[edit]

Connell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the only son of Evan S. Connell, Sr. (1890–1974), a physician, and Ruth Elton Connell. He had a sister Barbara (Mrs. Matthew Zimmermann) to whom he dedicated his novel Mrs. Bridge (1959). He graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City in 1941. He started undergraduate work at Dartmouth College but joined the Navy in 1943 and became a pilot. After the end of World War II he graduated from the University of Kansas in 1947, with a B.A. in English. He studied creative writing at Columbia University in New York and Stanford University in California.[3] He never married, and lived and worked in San Francisco for decades.

Connell was found dead on January 10, 2013 at an assisted-living facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[4]

Career[edit]

Connell's novels Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) are bittersweet, gently satirical portraits of a conventional, unimaginative upper middle-class couple living in Kansas City from the 1920s to the 1940s. The couple tries to live up to societal expectations and to be good parents, but are sadly incapable of bridging the emotional distance between themselves and their children, and between each other.[citation needed]

The pair of novels was adapted as a 1990 Merchant-Ivory motion picture, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Critics gave the film mixed reviews. Hal Hinson wrote in The Washington Post that "the film comes with a built-in problem. Its subject is emotional repression, and the challenge is to make a film about a soul-deep conservatism that doesn't itself suffer from the excess caution and lack of dynamism that its characters do. However, it's not a challenge that is met."[5]

Connell's 1960 novel, The Patriot, is the story of Melvin Isaacs, aged 17, and his experiences in naval aviation school during the Second World War. Melvin faces the terrifying reality of training and the likelihood of his "washing out" (failing). Melvin's attempts to communicate the realities of his experience to his father are rebuffed. The characters of Melvin and his father Jacob are similar in many respects to those of Douglas and Mr. Bridge.[citation needed]

Connell's 1984 biography of Custer, Son of the Morning Star, earned critical acclaim, was a bestseller, and was adapted as a television film/miniseries in 1991. The film won four Emmy Awards.

Dorothy Parker described Connell as "a writer of fine style and amazing variety".[6]

Legacy and honors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlson, Michael (January 14, 2013). "Evan S Connell obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, home page
  3. ^ Lawrence M. Bensky, "Meet Evan Connell, Friend of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge", The New York Times, April 20, 1969; retrieved on June 8, 2009
  4. ^ Yardley, William (January 10, 2013). "Evan Connell, 88, Novelist in Multiple Genres". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Hinson, Hal (February 1, 1991). "'Mr. and Mrs. Bridge' (PG-13)". Washington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (February 2005). "An Era of Awkward Repression". The Believer. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Anatomy Lesson (1957) (short stories)
  • Mrs. Bridge (1958)
  • The Patriot (1960)
  • Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel (1962) (poetry)
  • At The Crossroads (1965) (short stories)
  • The Diary of a Rapist (1966)
  • "Here it is", in Why Work Series, editor Gordon Lish (1966)
  • Mr. Bridge (1969)
  • Points for A Compass Rose (1973) (poetry)
  • The Connoisseur (1974)
  • Double Honeymoon (1976)
  • A Long Desire (1979) (essays)
  • White Lantern (1981) (essays)
  • "Saint Augustine's Pigeon: The Selected Stories of Evan S. Connell" (1982)
  • Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn (1985, ISBN 0-88394-088-4) (non-fiction)
  • The Alchymist's Journal (1991, republished in 2006 as Alchymic Journals)
  • The Collected Stories of Evan S. Connell (1995)
  • Deus Lo Volt (2000, ISBN 1-58243-140-X)
  • The Aztec Treasure House: New and Selected Essays (2001, ISBN 1-58243-253-8)(non-fiction)
  • Francisco Goya: A Life (2004, ISBN 1-58243-307-0)
  • Lost in Uttar Pradesh (2008 ISBN 978-1-59376-175-2)

External links[edit]