May 10, 2012

My Favorite Sendak Quote

The late Maurice Sendak, who along with Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel elevated the children’s book to high art, was often referred to as charmingly irascible. When people call you irascible with no further adjective, that’s usually a nice way of saying that you’re extraordinarily difficult but have somehow earned it. Charmingly irascible comes into play when your crankiness becomes entertaining—when you say the what we wish we had the cojones to say. Sendak wasn’t so much irascible as dead honest, and bracingly unconcerned with what you thought about that.

I’ve pointed it to again, but as we celebrate his life and work, here again is my all-time top statement of the governing ethos behind such classics as Where the Wild Things Are:

“I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.”

We should all be so irascible.