Evan S. Connell, RIP

Evan S. Connell, one of our best writers, passed away this past week, age 88. Connell was around for a long time, and came to some prominence on the back of the Mr. and Mrs. Bridge novels, some of the first incisive novels about American suburban life. But he had a broad reach and an enthusiastic imagination. His novels ranged from Americana, including the Bridge novels and that magnificent little novel about longing, The Connoisseur, to the long philosophical poems of Notes from a Bottle found at the Beach at Carmel and its sequel, Points for a Compass Rose. Probably his best known book was Son of the Morning Star, a highly regarded book about Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn. He was interested in everything—his biography of Goya was excellent, one of his last novels was Deus Lo Volt, about the crusades, and his novel about alchemy The Alchemyst’s Journal, was one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read, and still remains by favorite by him. And his essays! Again, he wrote about everything, and to wander through A Long Desire or The White Lantern is to be struck by not only the depth of knowledge and understanding and uncanny judgment that Connell possessed, but also the range of subjects that attracted him. On top of everything else, he was a remarkable stylist, and had not just one, but many voices, all of which spoke eloquently of the joys of the life of the mind. Funny—just last week I was staring at his books on the bookshelf, thinking I was ready for another one. And maybe there will be. But if there isn’t, there are all those great books on the shelf, just waiting to be re-read. They will be, too.

Categories: Arts/Literature

8 replies »

  1. Funny and sad for me too! (i´m from Brazil, so please forgive my bad english 🙂 Last week i read some short stories of him and today i was writing an email for a friend about the genius of Evan. I decided to put his name on google, to see something that i have not discovered. Then i discover he is dead. I´m sad. In Brazil, only in 1965 his first (and AMAZING) volume of short stories was translated, and nothing else. I hope USA uses de power of this man.

  2. Enzo–only the short stories have been translated? That’s interesting. I’m surprised that Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge haven’t been translated, given the popularity of the movie. Anyway, thanks for the comment.

    • Hello, Wufnik! Yes, only the short stories. In the 50´s and 60´s there was an editor house here in Brazil called “Cultrix” that brought to us great names of the american short story: Katherine Anne Porter, Conraid Aiken, Caroline Gordon, Jessamyn West, and others (including Evan). Since then, no one of this authors had anything more published.
      And the film of the Bridges… James Ivory style has no commercial appeal in my country.
      See, i love Eudora Welty, but her short stories were never translated here ( but in Portugal there are three volumes). Her most easy novels (Delta Wedding and The Optmistic Daughter) got publications in 1991 and 1997, but because they dont reveal her power, she´s is completely unknown here.
      Brazil readers have so much prejudice with short stories, its horrible to see this limitation (and i work in a bookstore!)

      Thank u for the answer!