13 Feb Maurice Sendak
“I am not a religious person, nor do I have any regrets. The war took care of that for me. You know, I was brought up strictly kosher, but I — it made no sense to me. It made no sense to me what was happening. So nothing of it means anything to me. Nothing. Except these few little trivial things that are related to being Jewish. … You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson — she’s probably the top — Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life.”
On his current writing
“I feel like I’m working for myself at this point. If it’s publishable, fine. If not, it makes not too much difference. Because I claim that this time is for me and me alone. I’m 83 years old.
“I’m writing a poem right now about a nose. I’ve always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it’s a ludicrous subject. That’s why, when I was younger, I was afraid of [writing] something that didn’t make a lot of sense. But now I’m not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn’t matter.”
I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.
On wishing he had children, sort of
“I would infinitely prefer a daughter. If I had a son, I would leave him at the A&P or some other big advertising place where somebody who needs a kid would find him and he would be all right. … A daughter would be drawn to me. A daughter would want to help me. Girls are infinitely more complicated than boys, and women more than men. And there’s no doubt about that. We just don’t like to think about it. Certainly the men don’t like to think about it. I have lived my whole life with a dream daughter.”
Bumble-ardy, the latest from author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, is dark and deeply imaginative, much like his classic works Where the Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen.
Bumble-ardy is an orphaned pig, who has reached the age of 9 without ever having a birthday party. He tells his Aunt Adeline that he would like to have a party for his ninth birthday, so Aunt Adeline plans a quiet birthday dinner for two. But Bumble-ardy instead decides to throw a large costume party for himself after his aunt leaves for work — and mayhem ensues.
When his aunt returns she says, “Okay smarty, you’ve had your party but never again.” Bumble-ardy replies, “I promise, I swear, I won’t ever turn 10.”
Sendak tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that those two lines — his favorite in the book — sum up his life and his work.
“Those two lines are essential. ‘I’ll never be 10’ touches me deeply but I won’t pretend that I know exactly what it means,” says Sendak. “When I thought of it, I was so happy I thought of it. It came to me, which is what the creative act is all about. Things come to you without you necessarily knowing what they mean. … It comes at a time when I am getting ripe, getting old — and I want to do work that resonates.”
Sendak says that he worked on Bumble-ardy while taking care of his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, who died of lung cancer in 2007.
“When I did Bumble-ardy, I was so intensely aware of death,” he says. “Eugene, my friend and partner, was dying here in the house when I did Bumble-ardy. I did Bumble-ardy to save myself. I did not want to die with him. I wanted to live as any human being does. But there’s no question that the book was affected by what was going on here in the house. … Bumble-ardy was a combination of the deepest pain and the wondrous feeling of coming into my own. And it took a long time. It took a very long time.”