Maurice Sendak is so gay

Happened across a passing reference this morning to Sendak having come out last year (at age 80); looked it up in Wikipedia, found the New York Times interview from just over a year ago. I can't remember whether I heard about it at the time. Here are some relevant bits from the article:

[M]any of the [...] details of his life [have] been repeated endlessly over the years in the hundreds of interviews he has given. Was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, "Well, that I'm gay."

[Sendak] lived with [his partner] Eugene Glynn, a psychoanalyst, for 50 years before Dr. Glynn's death in May 2007. He never told his parents: "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew."


A gay artist in New York is not exactly uncommon, but Mr. Sendak said that the idea of a gay man writing children books would have hurt his career when he was in his 20s and 30s.

I'm pleased that he finally felt comfortable coming out, but it's too bad that he had to keep his relationship a secret for fifty years.

Anyway, I spent a while wandering through various articles about Where the Wild Things Are (book and movie) and Sendak and such. A few notes:

Bruce Handy's NYT essay "Where the Wild Things Weren't" notes that Handy didn't much like the book as a kid (though he loves it now), and his kids Isaac and Zoe aren't fond of it either; nor are a lot of other kids he knows. (I should note in passing here that I was never a big Sendak fan as a kid, though I somehow picked up several of the songs from Really Rosie (essentially various of his books set to music) by osmosis, and still remember bits of several of them.)

I especially like the ending of Handy's piece:

I hope readers can hear the music Isaac, Zoe and I didn't. What if, to borrow from another tale, the emperor really did have dazzling new clothes and it was only the kid on the sidewalk who missed out?

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interview with director Spike Jonze with some interesting stuff in it, especially this from Jonze:

It's more of a movie about what it feels like to be 9 years old.

From the beginning, that was an imperative, an order from Maurice to me and Dave [Eggers]: Don't make it safe. The movie needs to be as dangerous for its time as the book was for its time. He told us all of this, why the book was controversial—he said child psychiatrists, librarians, parent experts and Better Homes and Gardens-type magazines said, "Keep this away from your children."

The LA Times has some further discussion of the book and the movie. That article ends with this from Sendak:

"I'm most impressed with the freedom by which Spike said 'no' to me," Sendak says. "I'm so pleased with his courage, his moodiness. Children's movies bore me to death. With Spike, I found a genuine, fierce little artist. It's not cute and cuddly! It's a real movie."

I'll close with two pieces that aren't about the movie at all:

"Maurice Sendak is my spiritual leader," by Ben Rosenbaum, discussing (among other things) Pierre as religious allegory (did I mention that Sendak is of Jewish heritage?); and Vardibidian's "Maurice Sendak is my spiritual leader, too," discussing the religious significance of Where the Wild Things Are (the book).

(Okay, I guess I do have one more thing to add regarding that last: it made me think of Twelfth Night, and the idea that those in authority like to allow a period of licensed licentiousness, of sanctioned steam-blowing-off, in order to affirm the rule and law and the control of the authorities the rest of the time.)

2 Responses to “Maurice Sendak is so gay”

  1. edwin sanchez

    I grew up on this book and will be seeing it with my children in 2 weeks.

    [Spam URL deleted by Jed]

  2. Amy

    It looks like an interesting movie.

    [Spam URL deleted by Jed. I’ll probably start deleting spam posted to this entry sometime soon. Spammers: why bother? I’m going to remove your URLs regardless, so you’re wasting your time.]


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