A Weird Joy I Was Unprepared for

At the center of all children's literature—which is in my mind, means at the center of all literature, the same way the eye is the center of a hurricane—swirl fairy tales. All fairy tales—the anonymous and the authored, the crazy bloody European ones and the witty, teasing African ones and even, by now, the ridiculous sanitized modern ones lumbering around with power they may not have earned but still hold. 

And who went to the center and tried to grab that power and let it rip through him until it came out in insane, wonderful, heartbreaking stories? Maurice Sendak, that's who (and yes, probably a lot of other people, but he is who I am concerned with at the moment).

I believe entirely that Maurice Sendak was there. And I believe, too, that the power jolted through him and created his amazing work. And then other people, through Sendak's work, have the power surging through them, like he's the sucker who held onto the electric fence and they formed a chain (yes, yes, I mix metaphors, so sue me) and it shocked them each in turn.

Where I am going with this? Right back to where we here, at the Diamond in the Window have often been: to the things we love, which—oh, by the way—explicitly call out Maurice Sendak, so we can all grab an extra spot of joy from them.

Yes, ma'am, that's the Hamilton mixtape.

And also, The Changeling. Did I forget to mention, when I went off on how amazing it was, that the whole thing is twined around Sendak's Outside Over There? I am sure I did forget. But I am now rectifying this, and also remembering that when you are reading or writing, getting a line into the white hot center is the thing to do.


3 thoughts on “A Weird Joy I Was Unprepared for

  1. I love the metaphor of the electrified chain. Can you say more about the connection between Hamilton’s Hurricane and Sendak? I’m missing it.


  2. Oh! It’s on the mixtape, when his verse comes on (2/3 of the way through the song) he name-checks Maurice Sendak:
    High speed, dubbin’ these rhymes in my dual cassette deck
    Runnin’ out of time like I’m Jonathan Larson’s rent check
    My mind is where the wild things are, Maurice Sendak
    In withdrawal, I want it all, please give me that pen back
    Y’all, I caught my first beatin’ from the other kids when I was caught readin’
    “Oh, you think you smart? Blah! Start bleedin'”
    My pops tried in vain to get me to fight back
    Sister tapped my brains, said, pssh, you’ll get ’em right back
    Oversensitive, defenseless, I made sense of it, I pencil in
    The lengths to which I’d go to learn my strengths and knock ’em senseless
    These sentences are endless, so what if they leave me friendless?


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