Exit Sendak, Pursued by a Bear: “My Brother’s Book”

January 11, 2013 § 5 Comments

In a now-infamous and oft-quoted NPR interview with Terry Gross in 2011, Maurice Sendak mentioned that he was writing a poem about a nose, and that it didn’t matter if no one understood it.

cn_image.size.maurice-sendak“I’m working for myself at this point,” he said. “This time is for me, and for me alone.”

“I’ve always wanted to write a poem about a nose, but you know…sort of a ludicrous subject,” he continued. “When I was younger, I was afraid of something that didn’t make a lot of sense but time went on, and you don’t have to worry about (your work not making sense to other people). It doesn’t matter.”

He was being completely serious. He was writing a poem about a nose.

His brother Jack’s nose, in fact.

Jack Sendak died on February 3rd, 1995. Now, less than a year after Maurice’s death, My Brother’s Book, his last completed work, is being published. The slim little book is an illustrated poem by Maurice about his brother’s death, and his own journey through grief. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Stories are Important

December 12, 2012 § 4 Comments

IAP9677

After my grandmother died, my mom told the story of her last minutes to everyone who asked. She’d been with her mother—my grandmother—at the hospital in Franklin, Indiana, and it was nighttime, around Christmas. She was about to leave when she noticed that it was snowing outside. She commented to those there that she was glad, that her mother loved snow. When she left, she watched the snow fall around her and on the lights and decorations outside the hospital. A peaceful knowing came over her: she knew that she wouldn’t see her mother alive again, but that it was ok. She drove to my uncle’s house. My grandmother was gone before my mom pulled into the driveway.

My mom will always tell this story, because she needs to know that her mother’s passing was a quiet, wondrous and good thing at the end of a wondrous and good life. It was acknowledged, not just by her, but by nature itself. This, for her, is the story of my grandmother’s death.

But it’s not quite enough—enough for her, perhaps, but not enough to share. Because there’s the story of what happened, and then there’s more. There’s the story you tell other people, and the story everyone needs to tell themselves. The after-story, the Er-story, the story that can feed everyone. « Read the rest of this entry »

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