by Patricia Grandjean
Oct 7, 2011
02:57 PMBox Office
On Not Going Gentle into That Good-Night
When it comes to crochety older men, my longtime hero was Rolling Stone (and Weston resident) Keith Richards, 67. You could always count on him for a memorably snarky remark in interviews, like the time he called Elton John a specialist in "songs for dead blondes" (around the time Elton turned the Marilyn Monroe tribute "Candle in the Wind" to a tribute to Princess Diana). Or when he noted that rap artists' greatest talent seemed to be for shooting each other. Or any one of the 60,000 times he's insulted Mick Jagger.
But now that the publication of his memoir, Life, has revealed "Keef" as just a big ol' teddy bear—albeit one with a Mailer Literary Award, presented to him by (who knew?) Bill Clinton—I have a new cantankerous crush: Ridgefield's Maurice Sendak, 83. Having last month published his first new children's book in ages, Bumble-Ardy (HarperCollins; $17.95), he just gave an interview to Manchester, England's The Guardian that's sure to curl the toes of his young readers', um, guardians. A few of my favorite potshots:
On E-Books: "I hate them. It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book! A book is a book is a book." (Which explains why you won't find a Kindle-ready version of Bumble-Ardy.)
On American conservatives: "These Republican schnooks would be comical if they weren't not funny."
On being perceived as "merely" a children's book illustrator: "I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can't do that. I'm in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person."
On creativity: "I'm totally crazy, I know that. I don't say that to be a smartass, but I know that that's the very essence of what makes my work good. And I know my work is good. Not everybody likes it, that's fine. I don't do it for everybody. Or anybody. I do it because I can't not do it."
On Salman Rushdie (who once panned him in The New York Times): "That flaccid f---head. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that."
On fellow children's author Roald Dahl: "The cruelty in his books is off-putting. Scary guy. I know he's very popular but what's nice about this guy? He's dead, that's what's nice about him."
On Stephen King: "Bulls--t."
Of course, Sendak has always been at war with the parents of his readers, who fret that his work isn't suitable for their impressionable darlings. To that, I'd just like to say: I've been a fan for 50 years, Mr. Sendak. And my parents? Well, I just never let them read your stuff.
And I'd like to send my own complaint to HarperCollins: When are you going to remember to send me a review copy of Sendak's books?? A rough proof?? A measly press release, goshdarnit?? When he produces his next book on noses, which he says he's working on now, I want it!! (*imitating Stephen Colbert's grabby hands*)
As for everyone else, you can read more about Richards and Sendak and 48 other Connecticut celebrities in Connecticut Magazine's "Celebrity Top 50," coming in our December 2011 issue.On Not Going Gentle into That Good-Night