Most of us know Maurice Sendak as the author and artist of the book Where the Wild Things Are. His rich imagery and heartfelt stories kept us enthralled as children and even into adulthood as we pass it on to the next generations. In the new book, There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak, author and Sendak admirer Jonathan Cott, reflects on interactions with the artist and delves into the lives and background of this quiet figure. While we lost Sendak in 2012, there was far more to discover in the world of his brain. Cott’s book takes a look at Sendak’s upbringing as a poor boy in Brooklyn, and the interactions that moved him forward into a creative life.
Cott makes sure to include a great deal of pieces by Maurice Sendak, many directly from books like Outside Over There and In the Night Kitchen. He also takes care to provide thoughtful discussions of the art itself and what it may mean from a psychological perspective. This book is most definitely an adult biography, and I would not recommend sharing it with your smallest readers; stick to Sendak’s works for that. Cott looks at the man. He discusses Sendak’s sexuality and life with his partner, the importance of a proper New York deli sandwich, and the intricate details and memories that showed up in later works.
Sendak’s work is incredible and will endure. Cott’s book There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak, makes Sendak more human to the adult reader in us all.
There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak is available May 16, 2017.