May 8, 2012

When Colbert Met Sendak…

Seeing as you’re online reading this right now, you’ve probably already learned elsewhere on the internet that Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and many other classic, award-winning books, passed away today. The New York Times published a thorough obituary online about Sendak’s life and work, and other news outlets have picked up the story as well. But there is an element to this that strikes me as cosmically eerie, and which wasn’t mentioned in any of the three pieces I read this morning about Sendak’s death. Two of those articles touch on the fact that a few months ago, Stephen Colbert traveled to Sendak’s home to interview him. Their chat aired in two parts on consecutive nights, and before I get to the cosmic eerieness, you should watch their hilarious interaction.

[Note: Videos were originally embedded here, but the service used to post them no longer exists and WordPress is sadly way behind the curve when it comes to video embeds, imposing limitations that preclude far too many videos from being used directly in posts. BUT here are links to the two segments of the Colbert/Sendak interview: Part One and Part Two.]


Though it probably seemed like a gag at the time, Colbert really did find a publisher for I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)…and the book, bearing Sendak’s endorsement, became available today. I almost published a post yesterday about its impending release, mainly as an excuse to share the interview and make sure people knew that a new example of Colbert’s genius was about to hit. I ended up not doing it, though I thought I might post the interview in the future, whenever Sendak passed away. Then I saw the news online today – the release day of the book – that Sendak was gone. Maybe I’m alone here, but I find that pretty damn cosmically eerie. So…enjoy the interview, pull out your copy of Where the Wild Things Are and maybe even pick up Colbert’s story. It’s also available in audiobook form, read by Tom Hanks. Seriously. The proceeds are going to a charity that helps military veterans readjust to society, and besides, what better way to honor the departed author than by purchasing a book he so tepidly recommended?

Thanks for the stories, Mr. Sendak.


  1. One of the greatest interviews of all time. And no idea that the book was supposed to come out today, that is creepy–but I think it makes sense. When I was a kid Where the Wild Things Are always kinda scared me. So much so that I’m hesitant to ever see the live action movie.

    Comment by Dave — May 8, 2012 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

    • The movie is amazing. It’s appropriately dark and scary, but given how short and concise the book is, there was obviously a lot of material that had to be created, so the movie is its own thing. It ends up being this fascinating character study where all the wild things are these sort of emotionally fragile, scarred representations of Max’s psyche. I think a lot of people were disappointed by it, but I loved it. It’s really beautiful, and the animatronic work used to create the wild things, combined with some CGI for their facial expressions, is superb.

      Comment by DB — May 8, 2012 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  2. If no one else has already stated the obvious, please allow me to be the first. Obviously, Stephen Colbert killed Maurice Sendak! Or, the publication of his book, anyway.

    Comment by Stacy Arnold-Strider — May 8, 2012 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

  3. The best part of those interviews was Sendak’s rant on e-books. It is wierd timing. Either Colbert has the ability to predict the future or his publicist and publisher does.

    Comment by Denise — May 8, 2012 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  4. I’m going to stick with cosmic eerieness over the idea that Colbert can see the future or that he killed a sweet old curmudgeon…though I appreciate both comments. Here’s a clip from Colbert’s broadcast last night, in which he shares some previously unaired moments from his interview with Sendak: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/413972/may-08-2012/uncensored—maurice-sendak-tribute

    Comment by DB — May 9, 2012 @ 11:58 am | Reply

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