Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A morning with Maurice.

There were 2 bits of disturbing news on the radio this morning. The labour government's newly announced budget, and the death of Maurice Sendak.

Only 1 of them had profound meaning for me.

I had well laid plans to unpack, clean and prune today. But the sand in my shoes might have to wait while I take a moment to remember Maurice.

I found his books at the bottom of the chest of drawers in our bedroom, where many of my favourite childhood books sleep. 
I was looking for this particular one.
In my teens, rather predictably dressed in peasant smocks and wraparound skirts from India, burning incense and homemade candles, long hair bound in a leather aboriginal headband, and wearing the scent of honeysuckle...

...this tiny book [and another 2 - The Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull] were constant companions in my search for the greater meaning of life [and why I couldn't see eye to eye with my parents]. 
[If you're having trouble reading the words, click on the pictures.]
I wish I could say I had more adult and serious literature as a guide to my life, but there you are.


Here's an old copy of Where The Wild Things Are. 
It was given to me by Sister 1, probably in the early 70s. She was, at that time, a librarian and introduced me to many good books. [Not to mention, that glorious pot of honeysuckle perfume which even good money cannot buy these days].


These pages, from Some Swell Pup, made me laugh because it uncannily describes the relationship between Georgia, the Cushion and me.


It can be hard to let go of childishhood things. 
But then again, why would I want to?


For Imogen, with love x

Update Thursday: Last night, in bed, snug in my blankie and with my headphones on, I listened to some excerpts of interviews that Terry Gross had with Maurice Sendak which Pamela kindly shared in her comment below.

It was almost half eleven by the time I was done and I was an emotional wreck. But it was worth the snot on my pillow to hear Sendak's crackly old voice [the first time for me] and his thoughts on many things, love, life and death. 

Grab a hot coffee, maybe some tissues, curl up in a nice chair, close your eyes, and enjoy. If you're a Sendak fan, I guarantee you won't regret the hour. [There's also a transcript, if that's easier for you.]

Thank you Pamela :) x

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready."
Maurice Sendak, from an interview with Terry Gross.


Im Joy said...

Oh darling, how gorgeous, thank you. On a morning when I am feeling a little glum, this post is a veritable treasure trove to feast my eyes on! How funny that is a perfect representation of life with cushion and sweet pea for you! And that copy of 'where the wild things are'.. and those toys, well all I can say is you'd better lock them away safely otherwise I might be tempted to steal them from you.. all my childhood books now sadly are with my half-sisters somewhere across the globe xx

bermtopia said...

We loved Maurice Sendak here at the Nine-One-Four. The WPS and I recited "Where the Wild Things Are" by heart in Maurice's honor tonight.

(The Number 2 Son played Max in a holiday pageant when he was 4 -- a blatant case of type-casting!)

But my personal Sendak favorite is "In the Night Kitchen." Hard to believe it's a banned book in some circles. "I'm not the milk and milk's not me. I'm MICKEY!"

Let the wild rumpus begin!

The Queen

houndstooth said...

I am so sad to hear the news of his passing! I, too, loved his books and I read one of them to my class just this week. I think some of the deepest books I've read have been "children's" books. I read today that he also claimed to have preferred the company of his German Shepherd over most people. This only made me love him more! The world is a sadder place without him.

booahboo said...

Love the picture on the first book.. it reminds of Wilfee. He's almost at the end of his journey :(

i just got in just now... with my bags all piled up on the bed.. and not unpacking too. The garden looks like a jungle.. and and we have sand in the house :D

i still have my paper dolls from when was 8... and i always go to the kids section at bookstores.. still.

Jan said...

"Where the Wild Things Are" is a masterpiece of art and literature. And I'm saying this as someone who once taught adult art and college literature.

I really feel sorry for adults who seem to think they are above reading "children's books." Sendak never wrote down to children and we all responded with something deep within us.

Tootsie said...

Mom was very sad all day yesterday when she read the news about Sendak's passing. She's sad today. All our Sendak books and wild things are in Idaho. Your post helped Mom fill the void because she wanted to touch her wild things and all her dog-eared Sendak books. Mom's older brother named the family's collie-husky mix after MAX. He was a big dog who is an angel now. Like Sendak. Except Sendak will be a fiesty angel, per his spirit. And Max said, "Be still." And all is still.


georgia little pea said...

Thank you for all your comments. Sorry I didn't get back sooner but I've been busy hacking into the front yard and look a bit like a wild thing myself now.

Im - you can come cuddle them any time you like :)

Queen of B - I didn't know that and shall have to re-read Night Kitchen to see what the fuss is about. Reciting WTWTA by heart! What a lovely way to honour him. That would have been FUN!

Bunny's mama - I read that about the GSD too, in Arie's blog I think. I noticed today, looking at the Sendak books I have, that dogs often made an appearance in his illustrations.

Anny - you and I have something in common then! I just spent quite a few dollars at a kiddie shop yesterday, on the way home.

Jan - thanks for that! It's nice to get a professional opinion on my taste in literature ;)

Tootsie - I know how your mama feels. I can't say I've thought much about Sendak in a while but today, the memories came back. So I'm taking that most excellent advice to "Be still".

3 doxies said...

It was most definitely sad news dat Mr. Sendak passed away but what wonderful literary treasures him has lefted behind furs future generations. My mum just loved his works when her was growin' up and nows her still gets to enjoyin his stuffs withs My Girl...her is 9. And we has them stuffed characters too.

If you burned incense how comes you didn't wears patchouli? I thoughts dat was da fragrance of choice...hehehehe.


georgia little pea said...

Dear Puddles - dat is a good question. I don't know! But I do sometimes use patchouli essential oil and soap now. I have a hippie heart :)

Pamela said...

Sendak was a hero of mine. He recognized the darkness that is part of childhood and spoke to it while respecting children for their innate child-ness.

He was a troubled person who never stopped trying to evolve. He looked deeply and boldly at terrible things in the world.

I loved watching the documentary about the development of a ballet based in Brunderbar, the children's opera performed at concentration camps so Hitler could prove to the world he was not mistreating the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others he interned and ultimately killed.

Sendak developed the sets and was the creative power behind the entire project.

If you want a real treat, you should listen to excerpts of interviews he did with Terry Gross over the years. I believe Terry Gross is possibly the best interviewer in the English language. Sendak agreed and told her last year that he was never inspired to open up with other interviewers the way he did with her.

It's an hour. But I think you'll find it worth the time.

Thanks for your beautiful tribute. I'll miss him too.

georgia little pea said...

Thank you Pamela for all that info! I love his books but never really knew much about the man. I shall definitely check out that interview :) x

georgia little pea said...

Oh Pamela! I'm a wreck now. That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing it x

Anonymous said...

I loved "Where the wild things are" as a kid and I loved reading it to my boys.

Patrice and Higgins said...

How sad....Rest in Peace Maurice.


Kristine said...

What sad news. It's been a long time since I read a children's book but when they are done as well as Mr. Sednak's they are as lovely as any of the more pretentious novels. Perhaps even more valuable. The books we adore as children I think are the ones we remember the most.

Peggy Frezon said...

He was a brilliant man for sure. Thankfully, his books will be around for generations to come. I don't think they will ever lose their appeal. I still have my kids' copy of Where the Wild Things Are.

What Remains Now said...

What a beautiful post. I will seek out Higglety Pigglety Pop! I also enjoyed reading the comments...evidence of how he touched so many lives.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak.

The best books are always children's books. I don't think that will ever change.

Jean said...

I am ashamed to admit that, although I am an avid reader and always have been, I don't think I have ever read Maurice Sendak. As I still read children's books, I will add them to him to my list for my next trip to the library.

Olivia & Petey said...

Dear Typist,

What a lovely post! One should always keep one's children's books.
Did you wear kohl on your eyes?
I did. And henna your hair :)

georgia little pea said...

Jean - you're in for a treat. His illustrations alone will be worth the trip to the library :)

Olivia and Petey - no I didn't! I'm beginning to see I wasn't as hippie or cool as I thought! I was too much of a tomboy for makeup. I did want to henna my hair in my 30s, but by then, I had already started using chemical colours and apparently, one should never mix them.

You know, for a moment, I thought the kohl comment was for Georgia, who has very Arabic eyes. Ever noticed? :)

Anonymous said...

That was a lovely tribute. I have read "Where The Wild Things Are" but admit to being a bit of a dunce with any of this other stories. I do however know how hard it is to put away some of our favorite stories from our childhood. Somewhere in this house of mine, packed away in a box or a tote are all my Wizard of Oz books as well as my Little House books.

And yes, I would still read them today at 52 years of age.

Many of his fans are feeling the same way you are. Curl up with one of his books and rejoice in his life and his gifts to the world.

Sending you hugs. :-)

Kolchak Puggle said...

I hadn't heard this very very sad news. I was a huge fan. I think I always will be. Another legend lost...

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

What a great book and a sad loss, though glad to know he felt fulfilled. Sounds like you were a spirited teenager--no wonder you turned out so well :)

yuki and rocket said...

so sad! gosh i haven't read 'where the wild things are' since i was a child, but everytime i see the cover of that book it brings me back to the childhood memory of seeing the cover illustration for the very first time.

H and Flo said...

It's v sad isn't it... I heard a bit of his interview where he was particularly sentimental but I managed to keep it together thankfully, though I understand where he's coming from.

animal lover, quilt lover said...

HI Georgia,
Just came over to say HI How are you???

Sage said...

A loss felt by so many...

What a nice tribute. Now I have to go find some of his books for my new grand-daughter!

booahboo said...

If you haven't stumbled on this yet...

simon pender said...

That brings back memories ! I had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are and loved it as a kid.
Never had the stuffed toys though. Jealous.

booahboo said...

Yooooooooooohooooooooooooooo.. where are youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu... we are missing GLPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP... come back soonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Pup Fan said...

I loved Maurice Sendak too - such sad news when he passed.