"I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence."
November 5, 2012 1:07 PM   Subscribe

After Outside Over There, which is my favorite book of mine, a little girl wrote to me from Canada: “I like all of your books, why did you write this book, this is the first book I hate. I hate the babies in this book, why are they naked, I hope you die soon. Cordially…” ... I was so elated. It was so natural and spontaneous.... I should have written back, “Honey, I will; just hold your horses.”
posted by latkes (20 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I hate the babies in this book ..... I hope you die soon

I am about to plagiarize a small child and send this identical "fan" letter to Stephenie Meyers.
posted by elizardbits at 1:10 PM on November 5, 2012 [10 favorites]

I hate that I only really discovered Maurice Sendak the man after he's gone.
posted by changeling at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

MS: The only thing she said wrong was that her favorite interviews had been me and that stupid fucking writer. Salman Rushdie, that flaccid fuckhead. He reviewed me on a full page in the New York Times, my book Dear Mili. He hated it. He is detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that. What else shall we talk about?

I miss you so much, Mr. Sendak.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 PM on November 5, 2012 [15 favorites]

I almost used that for my pull quote.
posted by latkes at 1:25 PM on November 5, 2012

I'm having trouble finding that Rushdie review though...
posted by latkes at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2012

I remember reading We Are All In The Dumps With Jack and Guy and I just knew that Maurice Sendak must be gay - this was in 1993, before the internet was available to me - and that made me so happy. I don't know why I knew that - somewhat because you can read Jack and Guy as a gay couple who adopt a kid, somewhat because the whole absence of heteropatriarchy and the ambivalence/tenderness toward the Poor Little Kid just seem very non-straight to me.

I don't precisely wish I could have met Sendak; I guess I'd say I wish I could have met him and been friends with him.
posted by Frowner at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2012

I'm having trouble finding that Rushdie review though...

It's in his book, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. Unfortunately, the "look inside" feature seems to allow one to read almost every essay in the book except the one on Sendak and Grimm.
posted by ubiquity at 1:52 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came to paste in the same pull quote BP did. I'm still laughing.
posted by maxwelton at 1:54 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Outside Over There is my favorite Sendak book. Everytime I hear or read an interview with him, I fall more and more.
posted by psylosyren at 1:55 PM on November 5, 2012

I love me a good dark children's book, but Outside Over There is fucking nightmarish and creepy. Like Labyrinth, but if the whole movie was filled with those creatures who take their limbs apart and throw them around. I don't know if it's really fair of either the mother or Sendak to blame the kid's discomfort on some Freudian shit when the book features melting goblin babies.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:18 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I should note that my finding it nightmarish does not mean that I don't think it's of value. I even wrote a poem sequence based on it in graduate school for a class on Sendak. But it's still freaking terrifying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:20 PM on November 5, 2012

What a tremendous lesson in ageing and dying. Also, I wish everyone who ever complained on Ask that their elders are disengaged and have narrowing world views would read it. Maurice Sendak explains that so well, and owns his right to that experience totally.

"What’s to say, what’s to say? It’s very discouraging. Which is probably why I’m going back in time. I’m a lucky man, I can afford to do that. I can afford to live here in silence, in these trees and these flowers, and not get involved with the world."
posted by DarlingBri at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I didn't know that much about him, but that was hilarious. I guess I’m now a fan.
posted by bongo_x at 4:45 PM on November 5, 2012

Oh thank you. I need to cry today.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:06 PM on November 5, 2012

Oh, man, I miss him so much, and more every time I read him.
posted by desuetude at 7:41 PM on November 5, 2012

My sister's family lives in Ridgefield. I think I remember her telling me that he was essentially a hermit these past few years save for when he would do a reading for kids at a local bookstore. I need to call her. I hope I'm right about that. It seems fitting, somehow.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:52 PM on November 5, 2012

Here's an excerpt of an interview Sendak did last October for The Comics Journal.
posted by homunculus at 9:41 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can’t believe I’ve turned into a typical old man. I can’t believe it. I was young just minutes ago.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:42 PM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

I love that the way he speaks in an interview so closely mirrors his attitude in writing books. He's honest, heartbreakingly honest. I love being an adult reading interviews with him, for the same reason I loved being a kid and reading his books: they're never fake. I think the most amazing and inspiring thing is that he really seems to have known that he'd succeeded in his goal, to not "cater to the bullshit of innocence." The man had so much integrity. What a gift, to leave the world knowing you'd been true to yourself, not only in private but also in all your very public works.
posted by vytae at 9:07 AM on November 6, 2012

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