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In Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, a consummate storyteller, artfully crafts a portrait using the finest of details in everyday events and confrontations. The novel is comprised of vignettes, images, fragments of conversations, events—all building powerfully toward the completed group portrait of a family, closely knit on the surface but deeply divided by loneliness, boredom, misunderstandings, isolation, sexual longing, and terminal isolation. In this special fiftieth anniversary edition, we are reminded once again why Mrs. Bridge has been hailed by readers and critics alike as one of the greatest novels in American literature.
Custer's Last Stand is among the most enduring events in American history--more than one hundred years after the fact, books continue to be written and people continue to argue about even the most basic details surrounding the Little Bighorn. Evan S. Connell, whom Joyce Carol Oates has described as "one of our most interesting and intelligent American writers," wrote what continues to be the most reliable--and compulsively readable--account of the subject. Connell makes good use of his meticulous research and novelist's eye for the story and detail to re-vreate the heroism, foolishness, and savagery of this crucial chapter in the history of the West.
Walter Bridge is an ambitious Kansas City lawyer who redoubles his efforts and time at the office whenever he senses that his family needs something—even when what they need is more of him and less of his money. Affluence, material assets, and comforts create a cocoon of respectability that cloaks the void within—not the skeleton in the closet but a black hole swallowing the whole household.
Together with its companion, Mrs. Bridge, this novel is a classic portrait of a man, a marriage, and the manners and mores of a particular social class in the first half of twentieth–century America.
“A small masterpiece.” —Joyce Carol Oates
“Mr. and Mrs. Bridge are forever human, forever vulnerable, forever pitiable. In spare, whimsical, ironic prose, Connell exposes each and every one of their wrinkles and then, in the end, offers them to us as human beings to be cherished.” —The Washington Post
The story begins with the unhappy marriage of junior clerk Earl Summerfield to the much older Bianca. Feeling victimized by his cold wife and mocking superiors at work, Earl decides to keep a diary, a chronicle of his apparently crumbling marital relations, the paranoia and abuses he is seemingly forced to tolerate at work, and the world around him going to pieces in 1960's San Francisco. What he sees, what he says, what he wants to say – everything swarms his head and consciousness, inciting and fueling fantasies of love, ambition, and avenging the violent crimes with which he was become obsessed. His angry and unstable mind alternates between feelings of apprehension and disgust, and exploring his own violent, sexual fantasies, and Earl takes action first by breaking into other peoples' houses and then fixating on various women, before settling with utmost and troubling certainty on the local beauty queen, Mara St. John's.
With superb delivery and subtle clarity, Connell allows us to see and feel Muhlbach's emerging mania, with its impending tension and sudden exhilaration. He illustrates how a new fixation alters our lens on life and shapes our actions.
Though this historical recreation is medieval in style, Connell succeeds in infusing his diarists with alchemic wisdom, ancient appeal, and felt humanness. A work of rigid art and astute mimicry, Connell's work is intelligent and remarkable, medieval yet applicable to modernity. Alchymic Journals is, at its core, a study of humanity from the mind of one of America's greatest writers.
“A unique tour de force.” --The New York Times Book Review
“One of the most remarkable books that I have read in a long time.” --Kenneth Rexroth
“Mr. Connell’s Notes are what one intelligent, sensitive artist has been able to salvage from all experience as testimony to the rather pathetic integrity of the human species in the face of extinction. The book is no manual or tract, however, although its political meaning is unmistakable, but a work of art, even a work of high art.” --Hayden Carruth