“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is sublime. It requires little imagination to fill in the blanks and offers lessons in forgiveness. Perhaps the hardest element to imagine is what leads to Max’s mother to send him to his room. Max did state he would eat her up, but a child in a wolf suit is play acting. However, she loves Max and fixes his dinner for him in his room. Now there is a movie and book of the same title coming out (and Maurice Sendak is on board).
Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers wrote the screenplay and Dave Eggers is writing the book. A new version of something great is always tricky. Do you stay within the framework of the original or blow it up or some combination? Jonze directs music videos and directed the Oscar winning movie “Adaptation.” Beyond that his writing credits amount to the TV show/movie “Jackass” which I liked. I’ll see the movie before I give Jonze a hard time.
I don’t like Dave Eggers. He left it all on the table when he wrote “A Staggering Work….” I read the book with enthusiasm. I devoured it, but at three-quarters I realized there was never going to be an ending suitable to my tastes, and it starts over again in subsequent works. Eggers is a cynic that was dealt a pretty tough blow early in life. His parents died of cancer within months of one another. He raised a younger brother with out too much help from two other siblings. I empathize with him, but his inability to move on is what leaves me sour. The New Yorker’s posted some commentary by Eggers about the new book, movie and other stuff, as well as a portion of the new book. Eggers assumes that because his life is a trial, so must Max’s.
Eggers has created a contrived website and/or product(s) that have provided me with positive stimulation, but I find it too convoluted to get through. However, he’s done something awesome by creating the 826 Writing and Tutoring Centers. So while I no longer enjoy what he’s got to say in most forms, I do commend him for doing a great service to provide a creative outlet to those that may not have the chance/opportunity to explore this side of themselves. The program is well conceived, and he does have clout/money. Enough background/justification.
Max’s mother has a name!?!? He has a stepfather!?!? Max has an older sister!?!? The Wild Things have names, too, and personal issues that a group hug and therapy will help in everyone’s recovery. If Eggers is writing, and he is, then this is what I have to expect. His piling on ruins my simple exploration into a child’s imagination and understanding that he can trust his mother and be reassured of her love and forgiveness through the gesture of a meal and it was still warm. Max forgives her as well, because I assume he eats the meal based upon the inflection of and it was still warm.
The story Sendak wrote does lend itself to exploration/expansion. It’s compressed. The Wild Things may represent me as a parent. Previously mentioned, it doesn’t explain why Max is really sent to his room. It doesn’t explain in any specific manner what happens as Max sails to and from Where through night and day, in and out of weeks, and almost over a year. It doesn’t give any back story to the Wild Things. "Where the Wild Things Are" is a story as simple as the words on the page or a spiraling journey into new worlds to understand and manage consequence, love and forgiveness.
The effort to make it a coping device for Eggers saddens me. I can relate to Sendak’s version, it is bare and forthright. Its brilliance is in its broad, but complete storyline. There are discussions to have and imaginings to create. I don’t suffer the same life Eggers suffers. As it boils down, I would write it differently or would prefer another author. I would prefer a freshness that Eggers is not capable of providing me, perhaps by Cormac McCarthy. “The Road,” while dark, was a progressive, positive journey to lightness.