cover image There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

Jonathan Cott. Doubleday, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-54043-8

Journalist and author Cott (Days That I’ll Remember) reflects on his friendship with Maurice Sendak and explores the late children’s book author’s themes and styles from different psychological and artistic perspectives with the help of experts in those fields. Cott traces Sendak’s roots and influences to a variety of figures, including his emotionally unavailable mother, Mickey Mouse, Mozart’s letters, a young girl from his neighborhood in Brooklyn who served as his muse, and his childhood preoccupation with the Lindbergh-baby kidnapping. A psychoanalyst discusses Sendak’s remarkable ability to depict childhood rage and an art historian provides interpretations of Outside Over There’s illustrations. Playwright Tony Kushner recalls his own friendship with Sendak and expresses his appreciation for the author’s unflinching portrayal of catharsis, the “uncivilized, primary-process... desires and behaviors.” Cott approaches Sendak from virtually every angle, making this a remarkably complete picture of a complex and dynamic oeuvre. Career-spanning color reproductions of Sendak’s art are included for reference. (May)