Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are is a story about anger. Boisterous Max is sent to his room without any supper; he reacts by turning the world around him into a gothic forest of perilous beasts. When Max is made master of his fury, he sinks into contrition (homesickness) and returns to the fold of his parents’ forgiveness.
The lasting attraction of Sendak’s book is a testament to the powerful simplicity of the fable (the writing itself amounts to a mere ten sentences) and his wonderfully evocative illustrations (the monsters are apparently caricatures of relatives he was forced to endure as a child). The story has already been adapted for animation and opera, and the film, written by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, was released this month. While collaborating on the latter, Eggers was asked by Sendak if a novel might be produced out of the accumulated material. The result is The Wild Things (‘There’s one in all of us’).
Seven-year-old Max (‘part wolf and part wind’) is trapped in a world of erratic adults. His parents are divorced and his mother’s idiotic new boyfriend is always around. The neighbours are terrified of everything (‘Molesters! Drugs! Homeless! Needles!’) and his teenage sister no longer wants to play. No