Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sendak Interview on NPR

A day or two ago a friend called me to say she had heard Terry Gross, National Public Radio host, interview iconic children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak live from his home. Of course, I went right away to NPR's website and found the audio and text of their exchange. What a remarkable conversation it was. Sendak, at age 83, was in as reflective and philosophical a frame of mind as I have ever heard him. To tell the truth, while I have always greatly appreciated and been awed by his presence, his body of work and his bright place in the constellation of children's book creators, I have sometimes found him a formidable personality. Terry Gross, known for her ability to put her interviewees at ease and travel to unexpected horizons in conversation, engaged in an immensely thoughtful dialogue with Sendak, exploring his reflections on a rich life of creativity and good friends... and the reality of loss and loneliness as time passes and we lose those closest to us. Sendak's words were a complicated blend of sadness and exhilaration at the beauty and possibilities of life, reinforcing my deep appreciation for the sensibilities contained in his books. His newest book is Bumble-Ardy, published this month. The short summary is: "BUMBLE-ARDY stars a young piglet who throws himself a masquerade birthday party that quickly gets out of hand." The longer summary would be a dissertation on the intimate reaches of literature as a window to the soul. What is so special about Sendak's books is that they absolutely allow each reader to take that journey alone, as one's own discovery.