“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
– Maurice Sendak (R.I.P.)
Maurice Sendak, was an American author and illustrator of children’s literature. He is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, published by Harper & Row in 1963. He died at the age of 83 in Danbury, Connecticut on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012.
My mother read Where the Wild Things Are to my brother and I while we were growing up. The story and illustrations lit up my imagination (and nightmares) with dark fantasy lands and menacing creatures. The illustrations are fantastic, creative and terrifying, each face, exhibiting so much personality and character.
Take a listen to this magical and moving interview between Maurice Sendak and Terry Gross on Fresh Air, September 20, 2011. Maurice speaks about humanity, life, aging and his work. No doubt you will shed a tear or two as I did.
Snippets of Maurice Sendak’s Interview on Fresh Air, September 20, 2011
On his current writing
“I feel like I’m working for myself at this point. If it’s publishable, fine. If not, it makes not too much difference. Because I claim that this time is for me and me alone. I’m 83 years old.”
“I’m writing a poem right now about a nose. I’ve always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it’s a ludicrous subject. That’s why, when I was younger, I was afraid of [writing] something that didn’t make a lot of sense. But now I’m not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t matter.”
On wishing he had children, sort of
“I would infinitely prefer a daughter. If I had a son, I would leave him at the A&P or some other big advertising place where somebody who needs a kid would find him and he would be all right. … A daughter would be drawn to me. A daughter would want to help me. Girls are infinitely more complicated than boys and women more than men. And there’s no doubt about that. We just don’t like to think about it. Certainly the men don’t like to think about it. I have lived my whole life with a dream daughter.”
On being gay
“Finding out that I was gay when I was older was a shock and a disappointment. … I did not want to be gay. It meant a whole different thing to me — which is really hard to recover now because that’s many years ago. I always objected to it because there is a part of me that is solid Brooklyn and solid conventional and I know that. I can’t escape that. It’s my genetic makeup. It’s who I am.”
On his life
“I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Interview excerpt from NPR website.
At the end of the interview he repeats three wise words…
“Live your life, live your life, live your life.”
Three very wise words indeed.
I am so glad I have a copy of Where the Wild Things Are and I am going to hold onto it and cherish it…and I will try to refrain from eating it just as Jim did his card…
R.I.P. Maurice Sendak (Tuesday, 8th May, 2012)