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Maurice Sendak Taught Me Literature, Now He is Gone

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Maurice Sendak was my first real author. Before Dostoevsky and Dickens. Before Fitzgerald and Alice Walker and Hemingway and Lermontov.

Now he is gone. And that makes me very sad.

Among his last books was The Miami Giant, Written in 1995, it was a send-up of the old people on Miami Beach. He just did the illustrations.

But the meat of his work was Where the Wild Things Are, and the sets of books that I kept under my bed and read in my grandmother's attic in northern Minnesota on cold winter nights: Chicken Soup with Rice was one of them. And then there was the the "I don't care" kid, who gets eaten by an alligator. Or was it a crocodile? Doesn't matter because the creature eventually spit him out. And then he did care.

I always felt like I was on intimate terms with Sendak, And that his books described humanity in an ungodly imaginative way which formed how I thought about all the literature that followed.

Sendak was 83. He illustrated a book not long ago, "Bumble-Ardy."

That is the way we should all be at 83. Goodbye, Maurice. Your passing makes this a very sad day.

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