Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Ness’



 I’ve been considering reading this for a while.  I do like Sanderson’s world building, especially in the Mistborn series; I also have a penchant for superheroes, dating back to a misspent youth. Sanderson’s take on superheroes was appealing and tempting, especially as the sequel to Steelheart, entitled Firefight, came out in January this year. 

And yet… For some reason I’ve hesitated, not quite prepared to part with cold hard cash for it. Thank goodness for libraries! Got the book out, paid nothing. And, in all honesty, I’m glad I didn’t pay for it.

So, the basic premise is that something called Calamity appeared in the sky and people were gifted the powers we are so familiar with from superhero movies: Steelheart himself has very obvious echoes of Superman with invulnerability, flight, strength and energy bolts, albeit from his hands, flapping cape. He also has the ability to turn matter to steal. We also come across characters who can phase through walls and command shadows, create illusions and turn invisible, generate electricity, and demonstrate precognition. We also hear of people with powers to control earth or fire, to heal or to reduce people to ash with a thought or a pointed finger. These gifted people become known as Epics and quickly become warped, homicidal and power-hungry. 

A small group of rebels known as The Reckoners and led by the enigmatic Prof try to fight back by eliminating individual Epics. The novel commences as David infiltrates the Reckoners and shares his plan to defeat Steelheart. 

This is very much a Young Adult read: it rattles along with the pace of a computer game from set piece battle to set piece battle. The pace, however, led to somewhat two dimensional characters for me, again reminiscent of video game stock characters: a tank sporting an oversized gun, a sharpshooter, a hacker, a planner. There was never any time to feel as if I knew them, or even that there was anything to know. 

Sanderson’s world here was also not an original world such as he created in the Mistborn or Way of Kings. It is Chicago, transformed to steel by Steelheart and cloaked in eternal night. Sanderson does like to identify his worlds with individual features: the ash and fog of Mistborn; the rock and winds of The Way Of Kings; and now this steel cityscape. 

In many ways, Steelheart feels very similar to Mistborn: a city dominated by an apparently invincible tyrant; a plucky band of rebels; mysterious powers. What it lacks though was the charisma of Kelsier or the depth and humanity of Vin. The Prof and David simply didn’t have the same power. 

There are some fabulous and thoughtful Young Adult books out there – nodding to Phillip Pullman and Patrick Ness, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s In Me – and some cracking fun one – Derek Landy and Skulduggery Pleasant. This book falls somewhere in the middle. It is a decent read but it takes itself too seriously to be joyously fun and doesn’t have the depth to really explore the characters. 

And it really annoyed me that Sanderson – or David anyway – cannot differentiate between a simile and a metaphor. It is David’s character trait that his similes are lame: 

“Wow,” I said. “It’s like … A banana farm for guns.”
“A banana farm, Megan said flatly. 
“Sure. You know, how bananas grow from their trees and hang down and stuff?”
“Knees, you suck at metaphors.”
I blushed. An art gallery, I thought. I should have said “like an art gallery for guns.”

These are not metaphors. Similes!





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Woohoo my first finished novel of 2015 and a start to my Reading Challenge!

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This book was not what I expected. There was something very evocative and intriguing about both the title and cover – as well as the photographs inside. Almost all of which, according to the note appended to the novel, are genuine and authentic found photographs. I was expecting something haunting and thought provoking and this … wasn’t.

Now, I fully accept that my dissatisfaction with this book is probably in part because I misjudged the audience for it. But I think Ransom Riggs may have done the same. I had expected this to be an adult book and it’s not. Hence disappointment. But here’s the thing: as any cursory review of my blog will reveal, I have no problem with Young Adult books. I love Young Adult books and see no reason why they shouldn’t be included in the Booker Prize and Pulitzer Prizes. I mean, look at just three: My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Anything by Patrick Ness. Sublime.

So, the shift in gear in my expectation from Adult to Young Adult was not the source of my problem. It just wasn’t hugely good.

Here’s the premise: Jacob Portman was brought up on his grandfather’s tales of monsters and children with strange powers. He believed these to be fairytales or repressed memories of Nazi oppression until he nearly witnessed one of these monsters murdering his grandfather. A series of clues lead to an island off Wales where his grandfathers fairytales suddenly prove themselves true.

There are echoes here of the X-Men’s School For Gifted Children, of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts… It’s all a little familiar. A little derivative.

I also had a problem with the narrative voice. It is a first person narrative from the point of view of a teenager. And the language just wasn’t right for that voice. Some very long, tortuously clumsy sentences such as

I was following my dad into our suspiciously dark living room as he muttered things like “What a shame we didn’t plan anything for your birthday” and “Oh well, there’s always next year,” when all the lights flooded on to reveal streamers, balloons, and a motley assortment of aunts, uncles, cousins I rarely spoke to – anyone my mother could cajole into attending – and Rick, whom I was surprised to see lingering near the punch bowl, looking comically out of place in a studded leather jacket.

Wow. That’s nearly 100 words. Including an Oxford comma. And a whom.

It is just clumsy and typical of a tendency towards over long sentences and oddly formal language. Riggs just doesn’t seem very good at voices and I wish his editor had picked up the phone and said “Ever thought of the third person?” Here’s another e ample which jarred with me. It’s from the finale after a life-and-death battle

“When we leave here, this loop will close behind us. It’s possible you may never be able to return to the time you came from. At least not easily.”
“There’s nothing for me there,” I said quickly. “Even if I could go back, I’m not sure I’d want to.”

I’m sorry! What? His mum, whom he left in America? His dad, who brought him to the Welsh island in the first place being stranded alone with the horror of having somehow lost his son?

No voice and character are not Riggs’ strength! There was almost nothing to distinguish any of the peculiar children save for their power. And the fact that Jacob hooks up with his grandfather’s ex-girlfriend. As you do.

Don’t even get me started on Miss Peregrine’s interminable info dump exposition about peculiar children, ymbrynes and time loops.

Putting all that to one side, though, the conclusion had promise. Escaping from time loop to time loop allowing for a myriad of different historical and geographical world’s to be explored. Again, it’s nothing shatteringly novel – the anomalies in BBC’s Primeval spring to mind – but promising. This was Riggs’ debut novel and I may be persuaded to delve into the sequel Hollow City. Maybe.

Anyway I shall conclude with a selection of the photographs which litter the book. They are undoubtedly cool even if they lack the power of the illustrations in Ness’ A Monster Calls. I wonder how much of the planning of the story derived from the necessity to shoehorn in these pictures….

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With a week to go before the summer holidays, my reading list is starting to grow. Currently queued up on the ereader I have the following:

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These are crime thrillers penned, under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, by John Banville who wrote The Sea. I was particularly intrigued by The Black-Eyed Blonde as a new Raymond Chandler book.

Continuing with both the crime and pseudonym motif, I’m also ready to try

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20140713-131647-47807301.jpg which I have so far avoided for the same reason that many others will have leapt on them: Robert Galbraith is the nom-de-plume of J. K. Rowling.

As a break from crime, I’m also looking at

20140713-131832-47912817.jpg which is the new Joe Abercrombie offering, escaping the realism of crime fiction by delving back into fantasy. And I have Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost For Words which satirises the self-indulgent and self-important world of book prizes and awards.

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Slightly more self-consciously literarily, I’ve also loaded up

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Finally, as I am currently reading The Long War (and not hugely enjoying it) for the sake of continuity and completion I also have the third Long Earth book.

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And this doesn’t take into account the paper books I’ve got or the work I need to do over the summer. Or the twelve-month old baby squatting in my floor as I type this. I can just hear my wife’s voice as she reads this saying, “Well, we won’t be seeing much of you then…!”

Of the paper books I’m hoping to get time to read, I’m particularly looking forward to Patrick Ness’ (one of my all time favourite Young Adult writers after the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls) new novel

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Roddy Doyle is a great writer.

He wrote The Commitments which is a fabulous book and one of my favourite films of all time!

He wrote Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha which is a fantastic evocation of a ten year old boy’s childhood.

Roddy Doyle does voices extremely well. He creates the voices of children extraordinarily vividly.

So I was excited to see him on the Carnegie Shortlist. I was brimful of excitement and anticipation.

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Alas, I have come away distinctly nonplussed. This is not a bad book – not at all – perversely I’d have preferred to have hated it – it just didn’t grab me. Or I didn’t get it, perhaps. It was sweet, it was pleasant, it was… okay. I came away from it thinking m’eh.

Now the book cover didn’t inspire: that insipid yellow; the static, limp-looking girl; the rather unconvincing greyhound. But, as we are told, as I teach, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover so I ploughed on!

The tale revolves around Mary, a twelve year old girl. We are told repeatedly that she is cheeky and clever. Beyond her adding the phrase “I’m not being cheeky!” to half of her dialogue, I didn’t feel her to be witty. Compared to Shorty in Nick Lake’s In Darkness who never tells us he is intelligent but whose voice clearly is, Mary’s didn’t.

Mary is dealing with the fact that her grandmother Emer is poorly and has been hospitalised. Mary and her mother Scarlett go to see Emer every day. One day, Mary meets a strange old woman named Tansy who looks old but isn’t and who turns out to be the ghost of her dead great-grandmother, Emer’s mother, who died when Emer was just three.

Tansy, Emer, Scarlett, Mary.

There is (deliberately and consciously) an absence of men in this story.

Now, normally, the gender of the main characters doesn’t terribly matter to me. But there are men here who have a story but who are given no chance to tell it: Jim, Tansy’s farmer husband who is left a widower with Emer and a baby to bring up; Gerry, Scarlett’s Dubliner father and Emer’s husband; Paddy, Mary’s father; and even Dominic and Kevin her teenage brothers who preferred to be called Dommo and Killer and skulk around the house.

Did I as a male reader feel excluded from the narrative in the same way as these characters were excluded? I think I did, actually, and I don’t usually react like that. The sublime A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – the 2012 Carnegie winner – showed that male characters can do emotion just as well as female ones in a similar context as the supernatural helps a child come to terms with a family member’s dying. But Ness’ book is raw and painful; this one is… sweet.

And a tad sentimental.

Twee.

Tansy has appeared to “help” her daughter in her final days. Apparently, her concern for Emer had kept her “lingering” rather than moving on. And the form that this ghostly help takes is a nighttime road trip from Dublin back to the farm where Tansy died and Emer grew up. Ok. I get that.

And then Tansy steals ice creams for them.

Then they go back.

No, I’m sorry, I don’t get it. Perhaps I am lacking in emotion, lacking in empathy, lacking in x-chromosomes but I don’t get it.

And little, silly, practical things in the book niggled and distracted me which I’d have let slide normally. Tansy goes through a locked door to get the ice creams but comes out with them through the chimney because the ice creams are too solid… But was not the money she took with her to pay for them solid? The doctor agrees for them to take Emer out to meet someone… But no one raised the alarm when they didn’t return at all?

I wanted to like this book, I did; I expected to like it.

But I didn’t.

It’s that time of year again: the Cilip Carnegie Medal Shortlist has been announced!

It is genuinely one of the highlights of my year! I reserve the Easter holidays to reading as many as I possibly can of the list. I mean, we do shadow the Carnegie Medal in our school and I like to have a heads-up on the kids’ reading before the trawl and trundle of the GCSE form filling begins, but I love these books!

The Carnegie and Booker prizes punctuate my year!

I am still waiting for one book to win both. The quality of writing for young adults and the power of some of the topics – World War Two seems to be a recurring theme last year and this – is amazing.

Anyway, this year I am approaching the Carnegie blind: unlike last year when I had read and loved and wept with A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, this year all the books are new to me. And so far I know nothing but their names.

My starting point will be Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood, the strapline for which is “What would you sacrifice for someone you’ve loved for ever?”

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I enjoyed Sedgwick’s interplay between the present and past in the previous Carnegie nominated book White Crow as well as his macabre and sinister subjects. Looking at the cover here, the blood red colour and the focal point of the knife, I’m expecting something similarly dark and Gothic.

The we have Sarah Crossan’s The Weight of Water which is a beautifully evocative title.

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I’m not getting much from the front cover: there seems to be a journey… I’m reserving judgement!

Next in the list is A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle. I’ve only read Doyle’s adult fiction: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Commitments but he has a wonderful ear for dialogue and character so looking forward to this one.

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But, I’m sorry Roddy, I do not like the cover! I don’t like the yellow; I don’t like the twirly framing.

Maggot Moon comes next on the list, by Sally Gardner. Now, this title I dislike- it reminds me too too much of Button Moon or Sailor Moon and I feel prejudiced! But look at the front cover:

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How wonderful and intriguing is that? Is the lettering in a cyrillic style – will this be an account of the Russian’s Sputnik Programme? How will the lettering become significant? Is it a book about letters? The heterochromia of the boy; the ladder between the boy and the moon; the maggotiness of the moon! Very intrigued! Probably my second read… if I can get this: currently unable to get it on my ebook, which is where all the others currently reside.

We continue with In Darkness by Nick Lake:

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It looks to me post-colonial, African… a decent evocative title.

Now we come to Wonder by R J Palacio, the only author here to eschew his own name! This one looks good!

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Now this makes me feel bad: what have I been doing throughout this? Judging books. By their covers!

Next we come to a very young looking book: A Boy and A Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton. Looking at this, I feel that Pip, young Daisy P, may be the intended audience. The cover is beautiful but I’m thinking at the very younger end of the Carnegie audience:

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I love the Japanese feel to the cover and the immediate recourse to a cup of tea to prevent oncoming disaster! Also not one I’ve been able to download yet.

Finally, but by no means least, we have Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

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Again we’re looking perhaps World War Two setting; again the covers suggest a challenging and emotional read.

I read Landy’s The Faceless Ones – the third in the Skulduggery Pleasant series – and, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it: a smart and sassy heroine; an enigmatic and intriguing (possibly anti-) hero; a wide range of engaging characters. So I have taken the fact that the current seventh book, The Kingdom Of The Wicked is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2013 to catch up on the series starting with this, number one.

And it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

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Skulduggery, the eponymous skeletal hero, is still an engaging character. His own bemusement at his own existence is wonderful.

But the darkness that other characters refer to – his obsession, the hatred that pulled him back from death to inhabit (most of) his old bones, the tragedy that lead to his death – was never felt. At least not by me. And I know that Landy is writing for a relatively young audience but there is the occasional gruesome scene and he doesn’t shy away from impalements, death and torture. I wanted to feel with this book what I vaguely recall feeling with the third: that Skulduggery Pleasant was dark and dangerous.

I also had peeves with Stephanie Edgely as a character here: she is plucky and independent and thats all great … but she becomes too authoritative too quickly, too absorbed into and claiming understanding and knowledge of a world that heretofore she had not known existed. Seriously, Stephanie, you think the Sceptre of The Ancients exists? You’re 12, you’ve known of magic for a weekend, I’m not impressed. You came across as … I’m sorry to say … a bit of a brat.

As for the plot, if you’ve seen it read Harry Potter, you’re in familiar territory. There is a secret society of magic; the mundane world knows nothing of it; an ancient war between good and evil was won by good; evil is making a play back for power; an innocent girl with a hitherto unknown background in magic is drawn into the magical society and saves the world.

There is an ancient magical race known as – somewhat predictably – The Ancients who worshipped The Faceless Ones as gods but who turned against them and created the ultimate weapon, the Sceptre of the Ancients, to destroy or banish them. And once successful, they turned on each other and destroyed the entire race. In the war, the dark side were intent on bringing the Faceless Ones back to earth and allowing them to destroy humanity.

Landy does have fun with his characters names: Nefarian Serpine (nefarious, serpentine), Mevolent (malevolent) and the elders Eachan Meritorious and Sagacious Tome. Even Edgley: the family who live on the edge of the mundane and magical worlds.

In many ways the minor characters are more evocative and intriguing than the main ones: China Sorrows with whom everyone falls in love; the swordswoman Tanith Low who alternates between heartless savage killing and childlike gigging with Stephanie. Apparently Landy’s first draft killed her off but she was saved by his editors who thought the scene too sad. In exchange, Landy was permitted to torture her in each book. What does that say about our society? The character of Gordon Edgley, like Marley dead before the book begins, seems a thinly veiled portrait of Landy himself: a writer who would

systematically subject his hero to brutal punishment in a bid to strip away all his arrogance and certainty so that by the end he was humbled and had learned a great lesson. And then Gordon killed him off usually in the most undignified way possible. Stephanie could almost hear Gordon laughing with malicious glee as she read.

There is certainly enough here to warrant further reading of the series. It is certainly a good, fun and very well-paced book populated by likeable engaging characters. In comparison with other Carnegie award winners – the closest comparison would be Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness as the final book in a trilogy – there needs to be a big shift up in gears for The Kingdom of The Wicked to make the Carnegie Shortlist.

Horror is not usually my thing at all.

I don’t like blood. I get bored by violence. I get worried by crime writing’s increasing interest in hugely violent bloodied crime scenes and the minutiae of destruction that can be inflicted on the human (and usually female) form.

So it was with some misgivings that I approached Justin Cronin’s The Passage. In all honesty, it was The Twelve I picked up and then backtracked to The Passage as the first in the trilogy.

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There was nothing original about the plot: scientists discover new virus with the potential to cure disease and prolong life; the US military take it over to produce super soldiers; the virus is tested, the test subjects become develop vampire-like abilities; the test subjects escape and slaughter or convert most of the population of the world. A plucky band of survivors later discover both the truth of the outbreak and how to defeat the vampire threat.

So far so predictable.

But this book is lifted above the plodding re-hash of this somewhat tired plot by the richness of the characters that live (and un-live?) in this world.

It’s a long read – 847 pages in my e-version – and has taken a long investment of time. But you are swallowed up in the worlds that Cronin creates absolutely. Note how in keeping with the vampiric theme I said swallowed rather than immersed there. Smug grin to myself.

I also say “worlds” deliberately. It is a book of two halves: both pre- and post-apocalyptic. The link between these worlds is the main character, the child Amy Harper Bellafonte, named by her mother after Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. We learn this in the opening page of the novel and the literariness and intertextuality suggested here abound in the book. The book is divided into eleven parts and each one is introduced by a quotation of or from literature – often Shakespeare although Percy Bysshe Shelley, Katherine Anne Porter, Louise Gluck, Henry Vaughan and Sir Walter Raleigh also appear.

Amy has echoes of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbirdthroughout the novel: self-contained, self-educated, knowing. But she is a Scout without an Atticus: her biological father is a drunkard and abuser and abandoned by the narrative sharply. Her mother is forced by circumstances into prostitution and eventually abandons Amy to a convent. In fact the emotional honesty and empathy of her mother Jeanette’s descent into prostitution and murder was one of the most effective and affective description of despair I have read.

Amy is the thirteenth subject of the virus: after twelve unsuccessful tests on death row inmates, FBI Agent Wolgast is dispatched to collect Amy so that it can be determined whether her immature state would accept the virus better than the grown inmates.

Wolgast becomes perhaps the Atticus-like father-figure for Amy: she takes the place of his dead daughter, he takes the place of her father. Their relationship again is an unexpected pleasure in the book: his attempt to escape with her before they reach the compound; his sitting with her after she’s been infected; his rescue of her after the infected have escaped; his isolation with her as the world dies around them.

Cronin managed to avoid the temptation to linger on violence or to depict the overrunning of the world with vampires. He closets Wolgast and Amy in the mountains and, save for the occasional piece of rumour, gossip or news, he concentrates on deepening the relationship between them.

The post-viral world was perhaps less successfully created: I found it hard to keep track of the families and relationships in The Colony but that may reflect more on my lack of brain power than Cronin’s writing. But the disintegration of society there, created when Amy re-emerges, was shockingly credible.

Eventually, a plucky band leave The Colony with Amy in order to save her from potential mob justice. At one level they could be seen as a little cliched; Alicia the fighter, Michael the engineer, Peter the leader, Sara the medic, Hollis the support. They are a typical well balanced team you’d expect in any role playing game. But Cronin does imbue each one with depth, character and interest.

There is so much to praise here. But I think the most praiseworthy is what Cronin leaves out: so much is unexplained or hinted at or suggested; so much is left at being evocative such as Amy’s chaotic moment in the zoo; so much of the violence occurs off the page and there’s no glorying in it; and there was no giving in to the temptation to play sexually on Amy’s chronological ambiguity as outwardly a teenage girl aged a hundred. There’s so much to mention that it’s hard to fit it all in: Sister Lacey, the underlying religious echoes ( the project to create the super soldiers was entitled Project Noah, which is the story that underpin the whole novel).

The book that this most reminds me off actually is Patrick Ness’ The Knife Of Never Letting Go for all that that is a Young Adult novel. The clear trajectory of the novel following the flight of the main characters. And I have the same concern for the rest of the trilogy: as Peter claims at the end of the novel that “Now we go to war” I hope that Cronin remains as restrained and humane as he has here.

Update: for my review of the sequel The Twelve, please click here.

A MASSIVE congratulations to Patrick Ness for the historic achievement of winning the Carnegie two years running AND winning both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Prizes simultaneously.

A Monster Calls is a truly exceptional book and a mighty winner! It is one of those books that EVERYONE should read! The story is moving, evocative, primal, mythic and personal; the language is beautiful and elegant and so economical; the illustrations are breath taking. Truly, genuinely inspiring!20120615-061732.jpg

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It is with genuine sadness that I learn of Maurice Sendak’s death today. This man will have the status of icon, myth, legend and inspiration for all time.

I feel it wouldn’t be right, as a reader, not to mark his life in some way. He was the one man whose story, Where The Wild Things Are has stayed with me throughout my life. I remember my mother reading it to me; it was the first book I ever read alone; I remember having to draw the Wild Things in an art lesson at school when I was 10; it was the first book I bought to read to my adopted son and daughter; it was subsequently eaten by my son but quickly replaced; I have taught it in A level English classes and at GCSE.

I do not know enough about Sendak to write an obituary and there will be countless. The first (perhaps) is here

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html

What I can do is explore what Sendak means to me and what he woke in me.

He taught me that language is alive and resonant and beautiful and playful and true. His line that Max “sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year” is still one of my favourite lines in all writing! The way the sentence moves from the literal to to symbolic; the interplay of movement through time and space – “in and out of weeks” – is controlled, simple, elegant and just sublime. It is language at its best and reminds us that beauty, depth, poignancy and truth are not limited to long, pretentious, showy language.

Another thing he was the first to teach me was that the creatures and shapes that peopled the inside of my head – and I assume others’ – were valid and real and true in a way that transcended the mundane truths of our banal world. They were parts of me. Contradictory, antagonistic, childish, irritating, unruly, scary and – in it’s richest sense – wild but all parts of me.

He taught me that no one can limit or control human and my own imagination. The limitlessness of the Max sent to his room in which

That very night … a forest grew and grew- and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around and an ocean tumbled by

. Yes I know it’s “just” a kids’ book but Max in his room is Mandela on Robbins Island, is every wage slave, is every oppressed individual or group or race. Mandela in fact said, of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that it was the book that caused the “prison walls fall down”. Sound familiar? And the vastness of our human imagination: unbounded even by the ocean.

Yet despite his unbounded oceanic imagination, Max returns home to “be where someone loved him best of all” and through this I learnt that we cannot exist in our imagination alone. And as a parent, trying to discipline an unruly (book eating) wild thing of my own, I learnt that discipline does not stop the child loving and feeling loved “best of all” however much he may be screaming that he hates me!

Through Sendak, I learnt that love can be so possessive it becomes destructive. When he leaves, the Wild Things howl “Oh please don’t go- we’ll eat you up- we love you so!”. Watching Jeremy Kyle or recalling the disputes I got involved in as a barrister, other people would have benefitted from learning that too.

I learnt through Sendak that the label of “children’s” or “young adult” books is patronising. I recall Patrick Ness’ sublime A Monster Calls and I wonder about the debt Ness owes Sendak; I read Neil Gaiman and China Miéville and Sendak seems to echo through them. I have no idea whether these people have read or valued Sendak but I hear Max’s spirit in them.

So, Maurice Sendak, dead today at the age of 83, I thank you! You have in a very real sense made me who I am today. And I like who I am!

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