I remember the first time I read Where the Wild Things Are. I was given it in tandem with Where the Sidewalk Ends and both of those books had a great impact on my early literary development. The one because I had never seen a book that so clearly depicted my own imaginary travels, the other because I felt like I had found a friend. Sendak and Silverstein, Lewis and L’Engle, Blume and Danziger were the six authors I loved most until–Eh, I still love them most, I’ve just also added Dean and Robbins, Rowling and (most recently) Collins to the list.
I have always liked authors who made me think, who inspired me to dream, or who made me laugh. I like the ones who do all three best (so Silverstein, L’Engle, Dean, and Robbins come out ahead).
I was twelve years old, and having surgery on my foot the day I found out C.S. Lewis was long dead. It was December of 1983, and I was reading The Silver Chair for comfort while Dr. P cut away at my toes, and when he asked me about it, I said that I had read all the Chronicles of Narnia and couldn’t wait for Lewis to write more books.
Dr. P told me that Lewis had died on the same day as President Kennedy, and went on to tell me more about Lewis’ life and death. I didn’t hear a word of it. I can remember how pale I felt. As pale as Peter Pevensie’s voice sounded in Prince Caspian.
I still get the same feeling each time I lose one of my authors. The same feeling I had when I lost Jim Henson. The same feeling I had last week when I lost Adam Yauch. It is a personal sense of loss.
I heard this interview with Maurice Sendak replayed, in late June of last year. I was on my way to my very first therapy appointment, and it was a serendipitous thing.
My deepest condolences to every Wild Thing who ever roared.