What makes an idea too odd to sustain a children’s book? The answer: characteristics that make it, as Steven Heller explains, “so high concept or clever [it’s] deemed difficult for a child to enjoy.”
“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
A number of the best essays from the last year on The Millions have been nominated for the 3 Quarks Daily 2010 Arts & Literature Prize. We need your votes to get these Millions essays through to the next round! Please take a few seconds and vote for your favorite. Then tell your friends and family to vote too!
The Table 4 Writers Foundation, which was established in the honor of Elaine Kaufman, will award $2,000 grants for never-before-published works of fiction and non-fiction. The deadline for submissions is October 15. (h/t Bill Morris, who has written about the foundation and grant program before.)
Over at Slate, Mike Vuolo speaks with Bob Garfield about “African-American English,” or, as some might say, “Ebonics.” The two of them explore its history, misconceptions, and whether or not it’s possible or even appropriate for a white writer (such as The Help author Kathryn Stockett) to attempt to write in the dialect of certain African-Americans.
“There is a term in the legal world for such instructions — dead hand control — and, although compliance has varied and enforceability is debatable, they have been attempted by artists from Franz Kafka to a Beastie Boy.” The New York Times explores the potential impact of Edward Albee‘s will on his work, including his instruction that any manuscripts incomplete at the time of his death be destroyed. Pairs perfectly with Aaron Hamburger‘s recollection of staying at the famous playwright’s place out in Long Island for an artists’ residency.