16 May 2012
This picture appears in the fresh issue of The New Yorker. It’s Maurice Sendak in his backyard wearing a bathrobe, taken by Mariana Cook in 2005. I assume she’d be cool with me sharing it, just as I’m relatively sure the magazine’s owners might not be. So let’s willfully misread copyright law for a second here to emphasize feeling over legal regimes, k? (And, uh, using a bit of Napsterlogic, maybe it’s okay if I tell you to subscribe?)
Anyway, accompanying the photo was a touching interview excerpt in which he expresses some extreme self-knowledge. It’s somehow not strange at all that the best obituary on Sendak was written by himself. None of that nostalgic lost childhood bullshit that we (?) have been posting to our Facebook pages & Twitter feeds. Which goes to prove: speed is overrated, and there is no way to better understand a person than by spending an extended period of time not online but in one’s own head.
I am in my bathrobe in the front with my dog, Herman, who is a German shepard of unknowable age, because I refused to ever find out. I don’t want to know. I wish I didn’t know how old I was. This is far more than I expected, far more than I need, far more than I desire. I didn’t think I’d live this long…
I have serious flaws. And I think they come from a time of one’s life when one is very young and they stick to you like glue. And then things change when you get older. You’re doing what you want to do. You’re very lucky. Oh, the books, the books, the books, the books; the prizes, the prizes, the prizes, the prizes. It doesn’t matter that you’ve done a hundred books. It doesn’t mean anything when people say, “I read your book. I like it so much.” People do say awfully nice things, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a stinky person by nature…
It’s hard to be happy. Some people have the gift of pulling themselves up and out and saying there is more to life than just tragedy. And then there are those who can’t, and I’m one of them. Do you believe it when people say they’re happy?
There’s more to it than that. So I’ve provided a subscribe link above & I’m sure the internet has connived some method by which you can get it for free if that’s your thing.
Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis