View Full Version : Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares, Dies at 83

May 8th, 2012, 02:52 PM
Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Maurice Sendak at his Ridgefield, Conn., home with his German Shepherd, Herman, in 2006. More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/05/07/arts/artsspecial/05072012SENDAK-SS.html)
By MARGALIT FOX (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/margalit_fox/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/maurice_sendak/index.html?inline=nyt-per), widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83.

The cause was complications of a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor. Mr. Sendak, who died in a hospital, lived in Ridgefield, Conn.
Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

for full story:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html


May 8th, 2012, 02:54 PM
Truly a unique loss for art and literature :(

May 8th, 2012, 03:57 PM
"complications from a stroke"

I always wince when I hear that.... :(

May 8th, 2012, 11:40 PM
Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak.

Part one:
Part two:

May 9th, 2012, 08:39 AM
I hate people


Maurice Sendak, "Where The Wild Things Are" Author, Dies At 83

http://gothamist.com/assets_c/2012/05/2012_04-sendak-thumb-450x370-712711.jpg (http://gothamist.com/attachments/jen/2012_04-sendak.jpg)

The NY Times reported his death and has an appreciation of his work in the obituary (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html?_r=1&hp):

[Sendak was] widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche... Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963...
In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.

Mr. Sendak’s characters, by contrast, are headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious. (In “Pierre,” “I don’t care!” is the response of the small eponymous hero to absolutely everything.) His pictures are often unsettling. His plots are fraught with rupture: children are kidnapped, parents disappear, a dog lights out from her comfortable home.

Sendak also inhabited the role of curmudgeonly genius—in an interview with the Times in 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/arts/design/10sendak.html?pagewanted=all), he said, "I hate people," and preferred the company of his dog, Herman (this was a year after his longtime partner of 50 years, Dr. Eugene Glynn, died). In 2011, Sendak told the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/02/maurice-sendak-interview) that Herman was "German... He doesn't know I'm Jewish." He aslo believed in being truthful to children (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBIT_MAURICE_SENDAK_?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT) and even adults, "In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy. There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books." He told the AP in 2003, "I write books as an old man, but in this country you have to be categorized, and I guess a little boy swimming in the nude in a bowl of milk (as in `In the Night Kitchen') can't be called an adult book. So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that's OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think." And to people who said he should have made a sequel to "Where The Wild Things Are," he said, "Go to hell":


Sendak was happy to give his opinions about most anyone: Here's what the Guardian found out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/02/maurice-sendak-interview), "Of Salman Rushdie, who once gave him a terrible review in the New York Times, he says: 'That flaccid ****head. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.' Roald Dahl: 'The cruelty in his books is off-putting. Scary guy. I know he's very popular but what's nice about this guy? He's dead, that's what's nice about him.' Stephen King: 'Bullshit.' Gwyneth Paltrow: 'I can't stand her.'"

And in 2010, the Spike Jonze-directed documentary about Sendak, Tell Them Anything You Want (http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/tell-them-anything-you-want-a-portrait-of-maurice-sendak/index.html#/documentaries/tell-them-anything-you-want-a-portrait-of-maurice-sendak/index.html), was released by Oscilloscope Laboratories, the production company founded by Adam Yauch.

Let the wild rumpus begin.


May 9th, 2012, 08:46 AM
Not Nice

Maurice Sendak and the perils of childhood.

by Cynthia Zarin April 17, 2006

Maurice Sendak, the writer and illustrator, can usually be found in one of two places in Ridgefield, Connecticut: in the studio off the kitchen in his eighteenth-century clapboard farmhouse, where he works most days, or a quarter of a mile away, in a small, two-story red barn he built ten years ago, which doubles as a second studio, and where he prefers to meet people he doesn’t know very well. My first meeting with him was in the barn. I took a taxi from the train station, through snow-bleached woods, until the road became a dirt road. The taxi dropped me off in front of the barn, but when I knocked there was no answer. I had been told that the door would be open. It was locked. I waited, alone in the woods. About fifteen minutes later, a man appeared, wearing a long, buttoned-up shearling overcoat. He had gray hair, a cropped gray beard, and large, slightly slanted agate eyes. He walked with a cane and was accompanied by a German shepherd, like a man in a fairy tale. He put out his hand and said, “I’m Maurice Sendak.” We went inside the barn, where it was a bit warmer, but we kept our coats on: the implication was that I might not be staying long.

On the floor was a round hooked rug with the face of a Wild Thing picked out in green-gold wool. Over the sink, instead of a mirror, was a pen-and-watercolor sketch of Little Bear flying across a moonlit landscape. By the north window was a bookcase painted a pale blue and filled with literature—Henry James, Melville, Shakespeare—the spines neatly aligned. (Later, Sendak told me, “Even my loneliness is organized.”) When I went to look, Sendak said, “Now that I’m old, I am reading more seriously. I can read Emily Dickinson now. It’s a relief and a privilege. This fall, I reread ‘The Winter’s Tale.’ It turns out that the dead are not dead. Perdita, the lost girl, grows up in Bohemia. My hair stood on end.” He pointed out a dilapidated wrought-iron bench that had belonged to his parents. He said, “My brother and sister and I sat on that bench and listened to ‘Let’s Pretend’ on the radio. ‘How do we get to Pretend Land?’ And a little boy would say, ‘Let’s go on a boat!’ We’d stare at the radio.”

Sendak asked if I would like to take a walk. The winter had been mild, but the cold weather had returned. As we went up the road, he said, looking at an early patch of skunk cabbage, wilted by the frost, “Dummkopfs. You’d think they’d learn. Nobody learns!” When Sendak was young, his good looks were saturnine—he resembled the pop singer Eddie Fisher—but now, at seventy-seven, he looks more like his drawing of the winged servant, for Isaac Bashevis Singer’s story “Fool’s Paradise.” (Sendak likes to say that his parents didn’t take him seriously until he illustrated Singer, in 1966.)

Sendak published his first work in 1947, an illustration for “Atomics for the Millions,” which was written by his high-school physics teacher. He drew molecules doing the Lindy Hop, and made a hundred dollars. Since then, he has illustrated more than a hundred books, including “Little Bear,” by Else Holmelund Minarik, the first “I Can Read Book”; “The Animal Family,” by the poet Randall Jarrell; “The Juniper Tree,” a collection of Grimm fairy tales, translated by Lore Segal and Jarrell; and “I Saw Esau,” a collaboration with the British nursery-rhyme scholars Iona and Peter Opie.

His style encompasses homely thumbnail sketches and detailed drawings that have their roots in the work of Cranach and William Morris. When he began illustrating, he said, he was asked, “ ‘Where are your blond children? They look like dumbfounded immigrants!’ Which they were.” But it is the handful of children’s books that he has both written and illustrated that constitute his autobiography. The best known of these is “Where the Wild Things Are,” a book about a tantrum and a time-out, published in 1963. When Max, a boy dressed in a white wolf suit, is sent to bed without supper, his room becomes a forest, an ocean swells outside his window, and a boat takes him to a land where the Wild Things are—lumpish creatures who roll their eyes and gnash their teeth, and were based on Sendak’s own relatives in Brooklyn. Max stares the Wild Things down; they anoint him king; and he reigns until, lonely and a little hungry, he sails home to find his supper waiting for him.

Like every Sendak story, “Where the Wild Things Are” explores his preoccupations, chief among which are the vicissitudes of his own childhood, and the temerity and fragility of children in general. His narrative is almost always about a child in danger whose best defense is imagination. The book editor Michael di Capua, who has worked with Sendak for more than forty years, calls this “the story.” In September, Scholastic will publish Sendak’s first pop-up book, “Mommy?,” about a baby who finds himself in the wrong house, and defeats one monster after another. “

‘Mommy?’ is the story again!” di Capua says. The cartoonist Art Spiegelman told me, “Maurice reinvented what a children’s book is: it’s a book.”

HarperCollins, Sendak’s longtime publisher, estimates that there are about seventeen million copies of “Where the Wild Things Are” in circulation. Its success has allowed Sendak to pick and choose his projects: “Max is a useful child. What other four- or five-year-old allows his father to stay home and sulk?”

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May 11th, 2012, 06:10 AM
Nice story.

Rest in Peace, Maurice Sendak

by Alec Baldwin

Around four years ago, I met a broker at a Greenwich Village building to see an apartment. The unit was a bit smaller than what I'd wanted, but both the location and the building itself were excellent. There were two units to the floor. and I asked the broker if I could inquire of the owners of the adjacent unit if they might sell.

The woman had a virtual exclusive on the building, it seemed, and knew most of its residents' comings and goings. She said that the owner was an older man who lived primarily outside the City. In fact, she had not seen him around for quite some time. Within a few days, she forwarded to me the name and number of the owner's representative.

The representative, a literary agent, agreed to speak to me, although the broker said that the owner had indicated that the unit was not on the market. The owner was Maurice Sendak.

I called the agent, Sheldon Fogelman, whose speaking voice immediately put him in that rarified Woody Allen-type, New York Hall of Fame. I told him I wanted to buy the apartment and wondered if Mr. Sendak would at least hear an offer. Within a few days, Fogelman connected me with Sendak.

I never assume anyone knows who I am, least of all towering figures in the world of literature. "I don't know if you know who I am," I said, as if such a thing mattered in a real estate transaction. "Of course I know who you are, Mr. Baldwin," Sendak said. I could tell, right away, that whether I got the apartment or not, I was going to enjoy this conversation. Just from his voice, his timing, you could tell Sendak was funny, wise, sensitive.

He was at his house outside New York, he told me. He admitted to having been quite ill. There were voices in the background. "My caregiver and her son," he said. "Because I write children's books, people assume that I love children, but sometimes I don't, " he joked. "Like right about now."

We made a few exchanges of small talk, but Sendak seemed tired. Then he said, "You strike me as a very plain-speaking man and I am a very plain-speaking man, so let me tell you this. I spent some of the most important time of my life in that apartment with my partner. And he recently died. " Sendak's partner of fifty years was the psychiatrist Eugene Glynn, who had died in May of 2007. Sendak continued, "Many photographs, personal belongings and much of our life together are in that apartment. And if I sell it to you, which is probably a good idea, I will have to go through all of those things. And I just can't bring myself to do that. And I can't tell you if or when I will be able to do so. And you would have to make your decision to buy the other apartment based on that."

I could hear the pain in his voice, his heart literally broken. I thanked him and wished him a recovery from his recent medical troubles. We hung up and I moved on. I recently moved a block away from his old address.

Rest in Peace, Maurice Sendak. He gave children not books, but literature, like Lewis Carroll and Twain. Not pictures, but art, like John Tenniel and N. C. Wyeth.

Sendak. Normal and strange. Tender and cynical. Wild and wise. All at once. Like, well... art.


May 26th, 2012, 10:21 AM
Sorry, I didn't see this thread or I would have posted earlier. NPR's Terry Gross aired this compilation of four interviews with Maurice Sendak broadcast on Fresh Air between 1989 and 2011. Gross is a superb interviewer. If you like her show or if you care about Sendak, you'll like this. I promise.

Fresh Air Remembers Author Maurice Sendak