Poor, wonderful Maurice Sendak. The author-illustrator of countless, timeless children’s books (Where the Wild Things Are, say, or Chicken Soup with Rice) is, at age 83, still hard at work. His latest, Bumble-Ardy, was published last month.
Last month, NPR broadcast a poignant interview with Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air and, at least among his friends, he’s jovial and lively. Listening to Sendak, it turns out, is a perfect way to spend 20 spare minutes. Only near that interview’s end did Sendak become even remotely gloomy or dour. He spoke of loss: “I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them,” he told NPR’s Terry Gross. “They leave me and I love them more.”
But he recently gave a very, very different interview to The Guardian (via Jezebel and Vulture). It isn’t an altogether dour interview; Sendak maintains a certain conviviality, I guess, even as he describes the contempt he has for, um, pretty much everybody.
But by the Guardian interview’s brutal conclusion—and “brutal” is the word, because most of his insults are lobbed rapid-fire, right at the end of the conversation—Maurice Sendak has become so cartoonishly cantankerous, I was genuinely flicking little tears away from my eyes:
And with that he’s off again. Of Salman Rushdie, who once gave him a terrible review in the New York Times, he says: “That flaccid f—khead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.” Roald Dahl: “The cruelty in his books is off-putting. Scary guy. I know he’s very popular but what’s nice about this guy? He’s dead, that’s what’s nice about him.” Stephen King: “Bullsh—t.” Gwyneth Paltrow: “I can’t stand her.”
Whoa, hey now! What?
And then that’s it! No further explanation! Why, Mr. Sendak? Why all the cattiness for Gwyneth!
Image via the Guardian.