An anecdote (from memory, I caution). North Point Press was a small, literary nonfiction house out of Berkeley, but not by any stretch a Western history press. Think M. F. K. Fisher, not Leon Metz,
Following the best-seller success of "Son of the Morning Star," North Point was inundated with American frontier book proposals, to such an extent that its submission guidelines were revised to state bluntly "we do not publish Western history," or words to that effect.
"Son of" also attracted reviews in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, its paperback rights sold for $210,00, a wad of cash back then, and snared a movie deal. Lightening does occasionally strike.
<< 'Son of the Morning Star'' is impressive in its massive presentation of information, and in the conclusions it draws about the probable events that led to the fracas on the banks of the Little Bighorn. But its strength lies in the way the author has shaped his material. Whether or not one cares about Custer, ''Son of the Morning Star'' makes good reading - its prose is elegant, its tone the voice of dry wit, its meandering narrative skillfully crafted. Mr. Connell is above all a storyteller, and the story he tells is vastly more complicated than who did what to whom on June 25, 1876. >>
And here's a note on the book's surprise best seller status:
As a reader of roughly half of Connell's oeuvre of some two dozen works, I was unaware of this, though at $45 retail, I am going to need to find a library that stocks it. Too rich for my decidedly unf... more
Re: Thanks for the mention, Daniel. — Daniel Buck,Sat Jan 08 3:11
about North Point. Need to go back and check. I had thought that it had gone dark, but perhaps not. What I suspect occurred is that it ceased publishing at some point, the early 90's if I recall, and ... more
yes, North Point is no more; its back list is apparently distributed by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, part of Macmillan, part of Mr. Big, whatever.
Connell was right, the story is the thing.... more
I had no idea. Terrific stuff. As a rule, I'm an abstract guy myself, but those images of Baskin's do resonate with me. When I first glimpsed the Custer image on the original hardback "Son of" cover, ... more
In his 2008 NYRB review of Custerology, Larry McMurty has this to say:
"Three times in the past twenty years I’ve been asked to write a book about Custer and the Little Bighorn, and each time I’ve ... more
I was going to ask you. Apparently it was a 30-page consideration of Mister McCarty Bonney Kid. Do not know what became of it. (Are McConnell's papers archived at a university or historical society so... more
Thanks. Did not know about Ondaatje's Billy saga, and to further expose my literary blinkers, that he wrote The English Patient. Good grief, this Google fellow I obviously just consulted is ... more
Ondaatje was savaged by a certain nationalist element in Canada for having the temerity to write about "American" subjects. Apparently Canada was peculiarly insular--and insecure--about its literary c... more
Canada is...well, Canada. Overrated by many. While Canada may appear to be a sort of idiot relative of ours, she got her land the same way we got ours - by taking it from them who had it first. Lift t... more
At least about the "similar kind of dirt," though if Canada can be characterized as "a sort of idiot relative of ours," I am happy to raise high a glass to idiocy.
As someone who reads his fair sha... more
I do admire Trudeau's willingness to go full blackface at a moment's notice. And also like us, Canada interred their Japanese citizens during WW2, for their own good, of course. They also keep the nat... more
This I did not know. Leonard Baskin's mournful, seated Custer was originally a 1968 National Park Service poster:
Shortly after the 'Son of the Morning Star' television mini series in 1991, a new interest was generated in the book. When a new edition was released the dust jacket had an image of Gary Cole dressed... more
I cant stand to read that Custer was ignorant. That just is not very well informed. He is still the youngest general in history at 23 and maj general 25. Recognized by Sherman, Sheridan, McClellan ... more
Evan S. Connell was an excellent writer and researcher. 'Son of the Morning Star' was one of the best publications ever written about Custer and the northern and central plains Indian wars. I seem to ... more