Evan S. Connell, a National Book Award finalist and respected member of the literary community, has died of natural causes. He was 88 years old.
Connell, who grew up in the Midwest, often drew on his childhood experiences for his books and short stories. His first literary success came in 1959, when “Mrs. Bridge” was published. That won him immediate critical acclaim and the National Book Award nomination, but he didn’t publish the follow up–“Mr. Bridge”–until a decade later. The two books together told a semi-autobiographical tale, he claimed, and were later adapted into a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
The author flourished in the arts despite growing up in a home which discouraged an interest in them. His interests ranged an eclectic scale and he wrote about whatever appealed to him, including the Spanish artist Goya and the Crusades. His father, a physician, never understood his son’s ambitions.
“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 said. “I grew up in a home where there was no music, no interest in any of the arts.”
Connell’s last request to his family was that there not be a funeral of any kind. He will be interred in Santa Fe, where he lived out his last days.