Illustrator and author Maurice Sendak died today. You may read his New York Times obituary here: Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares, Dies at 83
My father enjoyed reading Sendak books to us kids, especially Outside Over There, whose protagonist, Ida, he read as "Farida," and In the Night Kitchen. I got to meet Sendak in New York City in 1998, when HarperCollins threw a "birthday party" at the Rainbow Room to celebrate 35 years of Where The Wild Things Are. When I met Sendak, I'd only expected a brief "Hello, nice to meet you" exchange, but we ended up chatting, and he introduced me to a few other people in the room before heading on to greet other guests.
In the 2011 Fresh Air interview with Terri Gross, Sendak said, “I’m not unhappy about becoming old . . .[it's] what must be. I only cry when I see my friends go before me. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do expect to see my brother again , like a dream life . . . but I am in love with the world."
- "Maurice Sendak: On Life, Death, and Children's Lit," Interview with Terri Gross, Fresh Air, September 20, 2011
There are those poignant, reflective words. And then, of course, there is the interview with Stephen Colbert. Colbert asked, "What’s it take for a celebrity to make a successful book?” Sendak replied, “You’ve started already by being an idiot.”
I am grateful for Sendak's life, and the art that came from that life.