Thursday, May 10, 2012

Max: Why I Loved Maurice Sendak

Unless you’re living under the proverbial rock, you’ve heard by now that Maurice Sendak is dead.  Many blogs, editorials, and facebook posts have been made in his honor, and many others have commented on those postings.

I’ve searched in vain for the comments that resonated with me.  Many have said that his writings got to the essence of childhood, and that it dealt with the naughty side of children, etc, etc...  But all that misses the boat for me.

When I was a kid I had lots of nightmares.  I was terrified of the dark.  I used to turn off the light (the switch was by my bedroom door), then run like mad for the bed and dive under the covers before anything scary could get to me.  I would run with fear and terror when, in the dark winter evenings, mom would tell me to take the garbage out.  And don’t even ask me to go down in the basement.  That place was terrifying.

But then there was Max.

He traveled across the sea to a land of monsters.  They were rolling their terrible eyes and gnashing their terrible teeth, and all that monstery stuff.  Was he scared?  No!  He tamed them with his staring trick.  He became the king monster!  He out-monstered the monsters.  And then, the wild rumpus began.

Man, you can talk your psychobabble about being imaginitive and creative, for me, this stuff was empowering.  I didn’t have to be afraid, I could take charge.

Well, it was still scary, and taking charge has always been an issue in my life.  But it became a little less so when I would think of Max.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

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