SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Evan S. Connell was virtually unknown to the general public, but to critics and students of graduate writing programs, the adventurous author was regarded fondly and often praised for his diversity of interests.
Still, few knew about his accomplishments in Santa Fe, where he’s lived in recent years. On Thursday, the acclaimed author of “Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn” _ a book about Custer’s last stand _ was found dead in his apartment. He was 88, his niece said.
He wrote often of seekers and doubters, world travelers through the ages, and conventional folks who secretly yearned to break out.
The author himself was blessed with a curious and unpredictable mind, his subjects including alchemy, Antarctica, Nordic tales, Marco Polo, Mayan sculpture and the quest for gold in the New World.
His best-known books included his first novel, “Mrs. Bridge,” published in 1959 and nominated for a National Book Award. His historical account of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer came out in 1984 and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize. It also was a best-seller and adapted for a network television miniseries.
Connell once said that the books, published a decade apart, were “semi” autobiographical. They drew on his childhood experiences growing up in an upper-class family in the Midwest before World War II.
Connell was born in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 17, 1924, the son and grandson of physicians. His mother was the daughter of a judge.
Connell embarked on a literary career despite the wishes of his father, who wanted him to inherit the family medical practice.
“He was concerned that I would never be able to make a living at this kind of thing _ it was a justifiable concern, I think,” Connell told The Associated Press in 2000. “I grew up in a home where there was no music, no interest in any of the arts.”
In “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge,” Connell’s narrative was a series of vignettes _ some just a few paragraphs _ that offer a portrait of the pre-war lives of Walter Bridge, a workaholic lawyer, and his wife, India, who reside in the fashionable country club district of Kansas City.View Entire Story
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