worship need not interfere with othernplans for the night. As Keillor notes, itnis the ones lured away by the pleasuresnof modernity “who can afford to bennostalgic,” Lake Wobegon is the lostnAmerican Eden, the communitynabandoned in the pursuit of othernforms of happiness.nIn the library at Lake WobegonnHigh is still to be found a globe, thengift of the Class of 1917, representingn”a world that no longer existed.”nSmall-town America, the NormannRockwell vision, seems similarly fated.n”You know,” says Elmer, one of thenSons of Knute, “I don’t think nothingnis ever going to be what it was evernagain. We’ve about seen the last of it.nI’m getting too damn old.”nDuring the 1970’s the Census Bureauntold us that, in a trend unseennsince the Great Depression, there wasna migration of Americans back to thensmall towns and farms. The old worldnBroken Eggshells & Winged Seeds by John Lukacsn”Imaging . . . is properly the work of a poet; then[rest] he borrows horn the historian.”n—John DrydennSon of the Morning Star by Evan S.nConnell, New York: Harper & Row,n$8.95.nHere is an unAmerican story. Anyoung man writes a successfulnnovel. Thousands of Americans, innthe oddest places, esteem it highly. Sondo the most reputable publishers innNew York. When he attempts thensequel of that novel it fails. This happensnduring a decade when everythingnin American culture turns against hisngrain. He is shy and withdrawn. He isninterested in writing, not in writership.nHis very style is “outdated.” He writesnprose poems, short stories, and essays.nTwenty-five years after his first novelnhe tries his hand at something of a newngenre. It is printed by a small press innCalifornia. Its fame spreads by word ofnmouth. It is eminentiy successful. Henis now 61 years old, with money in thenbank.nThis is the capsule story of the worknof Evan Connell, to whom Fame andnFortune have come late and Truthnearly, a sequence that is much preferablento the other way around. (Famenand Fortune coming too early soonnamount to disaster, as does TruthnJohn Lukacs is professor of history atnChestnut Hill College. His mostnrecent book is OutgrowingnDemocracy: A History of the UnitednStates in the Twentieth Centuryn(Doubleday).nwhen it comes too late.) So there arenSecond Acts for American writers,nafter all.nMy purpose is not to record but tondescribe his achievement. The contentsnof Son of the Morning Star arenwell-known. It is a summing-up of thenmystery—if mystery it is—of why andnhow General Custer led his troop intona valley of death. It is a story which hasnnnseemed to be in the process of restoration.nData from the 1980’s, though,nsuggests that that return is over, thatnthe flow of people is once again towardnthe suburbs and cities. Torn asundernby the rapid collapse of the rural economy,nthe authentic Lake Wobegonsndotting the upper Midwest are becomingnthe new American ghost towns.nThe small town as reality is dying; itnlives on as myth, and ideology. ccnbeen retold and argued by Westernnhistorians a hundred times. ButnConnell’s achievement is not only thatnhe knows much about it and tells itnwell. There are three important elementsnin this achievement. One isnConnell’s clear, sinewy, manly Americannprose—yet without traces of thatnassertive (assertive, because selfconscious)nAmericanism that bristlesnj^x:iinMAY 1986/31n