You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

The Longest Now

Calmly facing death: Sendak v. Colbert, Act 3 – a sweet post-mortem
Wednesday May 09th 2012, 10:18 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,Uncategorized

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak, brilliant children’s author and dry wit (1928–2012). He died yesterday of a stroke.

In a crossing of the stars, that May 8 was also the publication date of the satirical children’s book Stephen Colbert dreamed up for his interview with Sendak back in January.

In last night’s show, Colbert included more of the interview, to honor Sendak’s memory.

Act 3 (15 min. in)

Colbert: Today is the release date of my beloved children's
classic, I am a Pole (And So Can You!)

It's the heartwarming coming-of-age story
of a pole searching for its place in the world.
It's the perfect gift for mother's day, father's day,
graduation day... and all other days. 

And you know it's a good book because of this blurb:
  "THE SAD THING IS, I LIKE IT" - Maurice Sendak.

Well, the real sad thing is Mr. Sendak died this morning,
at age 83.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him
earlier this year, and tonight we'd like to show you
just a few more things that Maurice had to say.


Colbert: Mr Sendak, thanks for sitting down with me today.
This is a, this is a real honor.
 Sendak:  No shit!
Colbert: No, I'm not shitting you.  I mean it.

Now what's your favorite of your own books?
  I really wished you'd ask that question.
Well I'm glad I did then.
  I think the best is two books I've done.
  I can have two favorites.
All right.
  One is called 'outside over there'
  It is my attempt to do a Mozartian book,
  to take elements --

It's terrifying!  these goblins that make
ice babies... and replace a child with it!
  Yes... what can I say.  those were all --
  I was really deeply in love with romantic art
  of the beginning of the 18th century,
  middle of the 18th century.
  Mozart was dead, and this beautiful /thing/
  came out of his generation
  and Mozart of course being the best quality,
  the best artist, the best everything that ever --

Mozart is the highest quality.
He's like the Donald Trump of classical music.
Only the finest...
  I'm gonna have to... I'm gonna have to kill you.
  I'm gonna have to kill you! 

Donald is quality.  You've seen,
Everything he does is gold plated. That's quality.
  Yes, yes, he's just like Donald Trump.
Everything is primo. Primo.
  You got it, you nailed him.

  The other... is called 'Higgelty Piggelty Pop!'
  It's probably the best thing I've done.
Tell me the story.
  It's about a sealyham terrier.
  My sealyham terrier.  The dog i had.
  Her name was Jennie,
  and she appeared in all my books,
  up until the time she died.
  And higgelty piggelty pop! was the big book
  I wrote about her
  because I knew she was going to die, soon.
  She was getting old.

What happens in it?
  What happens is
  the little dog goes out into the world
  and leaves her master
  to find out, "is there more to life?"
  and the series of adventures that she has
  where she proves her total inadequacy
  to almost everything that happens to her.

  And - but she accepts that.
  and that is the truth of her life
  that she must accept her inadequacy
  and her failure to live up to expectations
  that others may have of her,
  that she surely has of her.
  And she just ends up a sweet, jerky dog
  which she is, noone ever really wanted
  anything more from her, so...

Does she return to him?

  No. She dies. She dies.
  And she leaves him a letter, saying
  "If you ever come this way, look me up.
  But I can't tell you how to get here."

  The book has had a very difficult life.  All of it.
  Considered like, "why is this a children's book?"
  Why not! What is a children's book?
  I don't have a clue!
  I'm famous for them, I write them,
  I illustrate them, but I don't know what they are
  I don't know why they're for children.

I like that your work does not sugargcoat childhood.
You bring the pain.  You keep it real.
  But some people think that is not
  appropriate for children -
  To suffer pain, read about it, think about it,
  feel about it.  Yet that's all they do.

Every moment of childhood is a sense of uncertainty
  Yes.  I think childhood is a period of great torment.
  We learn all these things about what is, what isn't
  what you can do, what you cannot do.
  It's hard.  It is very hard.

What's the best thig a parent can do for a child?
  Love him, her.
But what's that mean?
  Take them for what they are.


Saying thank you with pancakes:

Comments Off on Calmly facing death: Sendak v. Colbert, Act 3 – a sweet post-mortem

Bad Behavior has blocked 231 access attempts in the last 7 days.