This week’s edition of The New Yorker includes an excerpt of an interview with the recently deceased Maurice Sendak. He’s pictured in the magazine looking like Yoda–cane and robe–next to his dog. The excerpt starts:
I am in my bathrobe in the forest with my dog, Herman, who is a German shepherd of unknowable age, because I refused to ever find out. I don’t want to know. I wish I didn’t know how old I was.”
This from the man who wrote and illustrated Where the Wild Things Are, a book that more accurately and delicately explores the complexities of childhood than most other children’s books. No wonder Sendak was not interested in growing old.
The excerpt ends thus:
It’s hard to be happy. Some people have the gift of pulling themselves up and out and saying there is more to life than just tragedy. And the there are those who can’t, and I’m one of them. Do you believe it when people say they’re happy?”
Max, the main character of Wild Things, is sent to his room after having a temper tantrum. He travels for a long time to the land of the wild things, where he becomes their leader. Still a child, though, he becomes homesick and journeys back to his room, from which he emerges to find dinner waiting, still warm. Is there any greater happiness than that?