Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pig Wants to Party: Terry Gross Interviews Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air

Yesterday—while I was driving in my car—I listened to a truly interesting and revelatory interview that Terry Gross had with award-winning children’s author Maurice Sendak. They talked about Sendak’s new book Bumble-ardy, his work, and his life.

From the NPR website:

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."

Click here to listen to the interview.
Click here to look inside the book.

Anita Silvey on Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak the Artist: An Interview

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