Friday, March 12, 2010

“The Wild Things”

By Dave Eggers
ISBN No. 978-0-307-39904-5

It’s official: Maurice Sendak’s children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” is now a cottage industry. First it was a rudimentary bedtime story that parents read to their kids. Then the book became a movie – and then a book again in the form of a shaggy hair tome by Dave Eggers (who wrote the movie’s screenplay). And now the book-turned movie-turned concept book has turned into something closer to its original form: a paperback. In a way this makes perfect sense. In an era of Twihard Grandmothers and middle-aged PotterHeads, a 284-page novelization of the movie adaptation of one of the most enduring – and controversial – children’s books ever written is arriving right on time. No trilogies or series of books here; “Where the Wild Things Are” has gone through so many transformations it IS the series of books. And why not? Eggers clearly has affection for the story of a naughty boy’s time out that turns into a celebration of the id in every kid. In its own trendy way (looking inside instead of out) “The Wild Things” is very much an epic of the “David Copperfield” tradition; one in which a young man has a great, maturing, heroic adventure. True, it’s an adventure overly friendly to today’s Gamers but there’s still plenty here for the geezer generation to enjoy. Even better, Eggers’ descriptions and plot twists make so much sense that you can read this book aloud without feeling like an idiot (hey, that means something these days!). “The beasts took off in seven different directions,” Eggers writes. “Then, one by one, they turned to see where Carol was running, and they changed directions to follow him.” See? Dignity intact; intellect stimulated. And if it works that well read out loud then it works equally well read to yourself or to your child.