Monday, May 28, 2012

Wild Thing

Nothing I could say about Maurice Sendak, in the wake of his death on May 8, hasn’t already been said.

So instead, I’ll just offer thanks for Max, surely the best-known and best-loved terror-in-training in all of American children’s literature. Without Max, without the Wild Things he sailed off to discover, cavort with, tame, and escape, life would be, if not unthinkable, then hardly worth living. For almost fifty years—since the forest first grew in his room one night in 1963—Max has been there to assure us that there is a love that never ceases to cherish and watch over us—not only despite our Wild Things but somehow, mysteriously, also because of them, for all their terrible roars and terrible claws and terrible teeth. Max is there to remind us that when we need to wear our wolf suit, when we need to make mischief of one sort and another, we won’t undo the world, but make it all the richer as we take the risk of exploring our deeper selves.

(Above left, Max with friends, from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, in fair-use illustration of the above commentary.)

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