“I refuse to lie to children,” says Sendak. “I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.”
Sendak admits he was terrified as a child, which causes him to write books that reflect the horror and confusion (but also adventure and joy) of a childhood.
“Essentially, there is no protecting children. None. I grew up at a tough time. With the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. There was this invasion of childhood in the air. In my neighborhood, a little girl died. No mention was made of it. We children had to meet in the backyard to imagine what it meant. What’s happened to Rita? It was a world that darkened. The Holocaust demolished my family, my parents. I saw that, I was there, I was a child. I had to bear it even though I didn’t have any idea what it meant. What language was there to tell a child? None. That has stayed with me all my life.”
He makes the point that his books do not scare children, they scare parents. Which rings very true. If we are sheltering children from death it is because we wish to shelter ourselves.
The articles (especially the one from the Guardian) are very worth reading. Sendak is older (83) and bitter and sarcastic and wondrous all at the same time.
Of Salman Rushdie, who once gave him a terrible review in the New York Times, he says: “That flaccid fuckhead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.”
You delicious morbid old pWner, Maurice. We should all be so lucky to be such a cranky artistic coot in our eighties. You are an inspiration to us all.