Maurice Sendak: 'My Work Is Not Great'

He's 'wrong, of course,' counters Dave Eggers in Vanity Fair
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 26, 2011 4:09 PM CDT
In this Feb. 12, 2004 file photo, children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak smiles as he signs autographs.   (AP Photo/Mike Appleton, file)
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(Newser) – Maurice Sendak may be 83, but he’s not slowing down—in fact, he may be picking up speed. Sendak has a new book coming out, the first in 30 years that he’s both written and illustrated, writes Dave Eggers in Vanity Fair. Bumble-Ardy, about a pig whose family never celebrates his birthday, is dark in tone; but then, so is Sendak. “People from New York have been calling, to see if I’m still alive. When I answer the phone, you can hear the disappointment in their voice,” he says with his typical "pitch-black" humor.

Sendak says his life's work “is not great, but it’s respectable.” The author is “wrong, of course,” writes Eggers. “No one has been more uncompromising, more idiosyncratic, and more in touch with the unhinged and chiaroscuro subconscious of a child.” But “you can’t write masterpieces in your 80s and be happy too,” Sendak notes. Thus the new book addresses, as Eggers puts it, “childhood neglect and parental disappearance.” Those themes are “all I’ve ever written about,” Sendak says. “As a kid, all I thought about was death. But you can’t tell your parents that.” (Read the full story. Or click for a previous Sendak interview with dark tones.)

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