Maurice Sendak Is Curmudgeonly, Brilliant, Tells You To Go To Hell

Whitney’s Team Pick:

Maurice Sendak, the wonderful (and gay) author of Where the Wild Things Are, is still brilliant, immensely creative, disillusioned, and charmingly curmudgeonly at age 83 — and the Tate Modern’s TateShots mini-documentary spells it out perfectly. The documentary is shot in Sendak’s home in the woods of upstate New York and begins with a shot of the forest’s skinny, leafless, looming trees — it would be a fitting backdrop for Max and his floppy wolf costume. The short film also catches little idiosyncratic details of Sendak’s home: the old Mickey Mouse figurines that sit behind his desk, the large wooden swan that sits in his living room.


The documentary captures Sendak’s many (and varied, but all adamant) opinions about writing, being an artist and childhood:

About possible sequels to Where the Wild Things Are:

People ask me why don’t I write Wild Things 2? ‘It was such a success.’ Go to hell — go to hell.

About art:

Artists have to take a dive. And either you hit your head on a rock and you split your head and die or the blow to the head is so inspiring that you come back up and do the best work you ever did. But you have to take the dive. And you do not know what the result will be.

About childhood:

I didn’t see Michelangelo go to work in the morning — I just lived in Brooklyn, where everything was ordinary and yet enticing and exciting and bewildering. The magic of childhood, the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see.

Watch the short documentary here:

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Whitney Pow

Whitney is a lover of food, books, comic books and journals made for left-handed people. They are a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, where their research focuses on queer video games and new media. They are also a graphic designer, writer and editor who has worked for places like Opium Magazine, Literary Death Match, Publishers Weekly and The Feminist Press. Check out their website at and follow them on Twitter @whitneypow.

Whitney has written 53 articles for us.


  1. Oh, thank you for posting this! I LOVE Sendak. Sometimes I wish I could meet him just so I could tell him how great I think he is…
    It’s interesting to hear him talk about Outside Over There. I was terrified of that book when I was a little kid.

    • Also, I love the way he came out publicly:
      “[In all the interviews he’s given,] was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, ‘Well, that I’m gay.'”
      Could he be any more wonderful??

  2. I love learning about all these really nifty people who are GAY! I didn’t know about Sendak either… will have to tell my mom :)

  3. I love him and I love the things he says and I also love his house. I need that office for when I am old and curmudgeonly.

  4. Oh my gosh, this man is EXACTLY like my grandad. Down to the mannerisms, the voice, I think Grandad even had the same table lamp when he was alive. I’m not sure whether I’m laughing or crying but I instantly love this man!

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