Evan S. Connell, the writer most noted for his masterpiece “Son of the Morning Star,” a biography of George Armstrong Custer, has died at the age of 88.
Connell was an eclectic writer; unlike others he eschewed finding a successful formula and then sticking with it. Having grown up in Kansas City, his depictions of the city in his novels “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge,” which detail the lives of a wealthy but emotionally dysfunctional family, greatly contributed to any image others would have of the city.
Author Joyce Carol Oates described him as “one of our most interesting and intelligent American writers.” In addition to the biography of Custer and the Bridge novels, his legacy included the novels “The Patriot,” which centered around a World war II naval aviation student’s fears of failure, “The Diary of a Rapist,” “The Connoisseur” and “Double Honeymoon,” both about a boring insurance salesman who breaks free toward his wild side, “The Alchymist’s Journal,” and “Deus Lo Volt,” which dealt with the Crusades.
Connell’s choices of subjects were as enigmatic as some of his characters, but the writing–spare, polished, distilled, evidenced best in the Custer bio, “Mr. Bridge,” and “The Connoisseur,” is irresistible for those who prefer their writing to be free of the tendency to be verbose and overlong. He is well worth delving into.