Thursday, March 8, 2012

More on Maurice Sendak

So many people have written me in the past couple of days saying that they too had a meeting with the Master. 

A bestselling children's book author told me that his career was actually launched by Maurice because he sent out his first book in manuscript to a bunch of authors he admired and only one responded. That one was the one. Yep. Maurice. And his letter made up for the missing others. 

Catherine Balkin (Balkin's Buddies) wrote the other day: "I wore the Wild Things costume a few times, once at an event where Maurice was speaking. When I came up on stage, Maurice bent toward me and whispered, "I bet you're hot in there." He was right." 

Then a friend who was a both a children's author and an actor sent me this: "Did I tell you how we met? He had a condo in the same building where I was staying and one night after the ballet or opera, I saw Maurice getting out of a cab. He held the door for me,  but I told him no thanks. He seemed a little put out that I had pretended to want a cab, so I explained to him that I had wanted a cab, but now I was more interested in meeting him. That cheered him up and we strolled around the neighborhood. He pointed out where he wrote Wild Things and we said we’d keep in touch. We did, and had lovely days in Ridgefield every now and then." 

Maurice Sendak may not be an angel but he is a saint.  In my book, and I mean book. He has helped so very many people that I know and so many more I have only read. For instance, once he told me that when Edward Gorey was not very well known and still wearing a WW I airman's hat and goggles around the streets of New York, Maurice asked him if he'd like an introduction to his editor. Gorey said, "They wouldn't be interested in me." So Maurice took that as a challenge and asked his editor if the firm would be interested in Edward Gorey. And the answer: "He wouldn't be interested in us." I don't think Maurice got EG to take off his leather airman's skullcap, but he did get him published by a major house. 

There is a tendency today for authors who've "made it", as we used to say in the 70s, to forget how it was coming up. They forget -- some of them -- how much it means to a young author, would-be or not, to hear a word of cheer. Maurice, despite the curmudgeonly play-acting, is one of the few who always lent a hand, and, thankfully, still does.

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