Friday, 7 October 2011

I like grumpy old men

Sometimes I think certain old people should be given a free pass to say what they want within reason because they've been on the planet for a lot longer than most of us. Like the way my Nana maintained that climate change was caused by Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and won't let me contradict her because I wasn't born and she was "so there!".

And I have a particular penchant for grumpy old men, mostly I'd love to give them a hug but they'd hate me for it. And I really want to give my latest favourite grumpy old man: Maurice Sendak a hug after reading his latest interview.

Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are) is 83, and he lost his partner of 50 years Eugene Glynn in 2007 so he gets a free pass. Not to mention some of his extended family being destroyed in the Holocaust. Something he quietly alludes to when his interviewer sees his German Shepard, Herman : "He doesn't know I'm Jewish"

He hates a lot of things, most of which I agree with (apart from the Roald Dahl thing, I love Dahl).

On E-books he says "I hate them. It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book! A book is a book is a book"
On the American Right: "These Republican schnooks would be comical if they weren't not funny."
On New York: "You get pushed and harassed and people grope you. It's too tumultuous, it's too crazy!"
On Rupert Murdoch:"His name should be what everything is called now." But he publishes you! "Yes!
Harpers. He owns Harpers and I guess the rest of the world, too. He represents how bad things have become. But I don't know a better house. They're all in trouble. They're all terrible."

He says his rage is only an echo of what it formally was when Eugene was alive, which makes me wonder what a crochety old character he must have been beforehand. But Maurice has the essence of what makes certain children's authors great. The capacity to tell the truth and show the darkness to children. Beyond a certain age children no longer want things sugarcoated. Childhood can be vicious and it can be lonely and it is wonderful men like Sendak (and Dahl) who provide the material for children who don't fit the Famous Five goody goody roll.

As for Maurice I hope he finishes his new book and above all I wish him what he calls a "yummy death", may he sing like a lark.

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