Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak: R.I.P.

Maurice Sendak, one of the most important children's writer and illustrator of our time, died today. He brought fantasy into the reader's imagination. He also wrote operas and ballets for the stage and television.  Where the Wild Things are is one of my favorite books. He was 83. He will be missed.

In a recent NPR Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, he said that the following two lines from his latest book Bumble-ardy sum up his work and his life:

When his aunt returns she says, "Okay smarty, you've had your party but never again." Bumble-ardy replies, "I promise, I swear, I won't ever turn 10."
"Those two lines are essential. 'I'll never be 10' touches me deeply but I won't pretend that I know exactly what it means," says Sendak. "When I thought of it, I was so happy I thought of it. It came to me, which is what the creative act is all about. Things come to you without you necessarily knowing what they mean. ... It comes at a time when I am getting ripe, getting old — and I want to do work that resonates."

Sendak said that he worked on Bumble-ardy while taking care of his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, who died of lung cancer in 2007.

"When I did Bumble-ardy, I was so intensely aware of death," he says. "Eugene, my friend and partner, was dying here in the house when I did Bumble-ardy. I did Bumble-ardy to save myself. I did not want to die with him. I wanted to live as any human being does. But there's no question that the book was affected by what was going on here in the house. ... Bumble-ardy was a combination of the deepest pain and the wondrous feeling of coming into my own. And it took a long time. It took a very long time."

Read the interview here.


Joe Barone said...

How many times did we read this book to our son as a child? Hundreds, at least. Our son is thirty-two now. What a blessing this man brought the Barone family.

Marjie said...

I read Where the Wild Things Are to my kids so many times that I've had it memorized for decades. At one point, on a 300 mile slog through Virginia, my then 2- and 3-year old sons kept demanding that we read them the book while they sat in the back seat, turning the pages. Not surprisingly, I was sometimes on the wrong page, as was my dearly beloved. No matter, just the sight of the book makes me smile at the memory. RIP, Maurice, and thanks for the memories you helped us all create.