“The Wild Things” by Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers’s “The Wild Things” is a rare book – Basically, it’s a novelization of Spike Jonze’s movie version of Maurie Sendak’s children’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are.” Eggers collaborated with Jonze on the film script, then set out to write his own version of the story using both the original book and the film script as a leaping off point.
Kind of like a remix.
And it worked.
Me, I love Sendak’s hero, Max. I look forward to the day when my son is old enough to understand the sheer beauty of Sendak’s book and it’s principal character. Who hasn’t at some point wanted to run away from the doldrums of the real world to an island full of fun monsters and go crazy all the livelong day, right?
Jonze’s script gave us a little more insight into Max’s life – he’s the child of a single mother, and being left behind by a teenage sister who is now too old to play with him. He’s a rambunctious, sometimes obnoxious, little boy with a wild imagination and a not-yet-developed sense of boundaries and right and wrong. Jonze and Eggers’ script gave the monsters name and humanized them – sometimes even to the point of giving them cases of depression and other very adult neurosis.
Eggers takes it further by giving us more information. Here, Max only sees his dad on occasional weekends and resents his mom’s new boyfriend. Pushed to the brink one day, he runs away into the night in his wolf suit, discovers a boat, and sails away to a land of giant monsters who make him their king. Max soon learns that being a king isn’t all fun and games – there are people who want differing things, and its impossible to keep everyone happy all the time. (Even monsters get the blues.)
Eggers accomplishes the remarkable task of paying tribute to a beloved classic while at the same time creating something brand new. This book would be great for all the Maxs out there who have grown a little too big for a picture book, or those who want to remember the first time they ran away to play with the monsters.
(I love monsters. Still.)