Where the Wild Things Still Are
As I get older, as we all get older, early memories fade, naturally. As a result, most of the characters in most of the books of my childhood are long forgotten. The exception has always been those of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, published the year I was born. Those illustrations, so often labeled as “grotesque,” were imprinted in my mind at a very young age and remain there still in vivid detail. I have no recollection, really, of the story. But I can clearly recall having dreams of these characters coming to life in my room. While the characters in my mind are in clear focus, their source is muddled. To me they are half memory, half dream, and whenever I see even a glimpse of a corner of a Sendak illustration, I am instantly transported to the utterly unique world he created. It was never grotesque to me, that world. The dreams were welcome, and the memories never fail to bring a smile. It may be that my early exposure to this particular art stirred my imagination so that I pursued art partially as a result of its impact. That’s impossible to say, certainly. But Where the Wild Things Are is an undeniable part of my childhood, and those characters — even if I don’t see them or think about them for years at a time — will always be a part of me. Rest in peace, Maurice. And, pardon the cliche, thanks for the memories.