R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

05.08.12 6 years ago

Maurice Sendak, the curmudgeonly children’s book author famous for writing “Where the Wild Things Are,” has died from complications of a stroke. He was 83.

From his NY Times obit:

As Mr. Sendak grew up — lower class, Jewish, gay — he felt permanently shunted to the margins of things. “All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy,” he told The New York Times in a 2008 interview. “They never, never, never knew.”

His lifelong melancholia showed in his work, in picture books like “We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy” (HarperCollins, 1993), a parable about homeless children in the age of AIDS. It showed in his habits. He could be dyspeptic and solitary, working in his white clapboard home in the deep Connecticut countryside with only Mozart, Melville, Mickey Mouse and his dogs for company.

It showed in his everyday interactions with people, especially those blind to the seriousness of his enterprise. “A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ ” Mr. Sendak told Vanity Fair last year.“I wanted to kill her.

A recent two-part interview with Stephen Colbert endeared him to the internet in a big way. Both parts are embedded below. And if you get the chance, listen to this interview he did with Fresh Air last year on life and death. It’s wonderful.

And this may be the greatest anecdote ever told in an interview by anyone…

See you on the other side, Maurice.

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