From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dave Eggers: The Wild Things

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of my favorite children's books of all time. As the line in the book goes: I could eat it up, I love it so. I didn't get to see the movie adaptation when it was in theaters, so I decided to read The Wild Things by Dave Eggers to tide me over until its DVD release.

Max is the product of a broken home. His parents are divorced. His Dad lives in an unnamed big city. Max lives with his Mom and fourteen-year-old sister Claire. Sometimes his Mom's boyfriend Gary stays at the house. Because of this, Max is a little wild and often takes his anger out on his family. He doesn't understand the anger or why he acts on it and causes so much stress, but he does know that he feels bad about it.

One night Max puts on his wolf costume and begins howling and stirring up mischief. He pushes his Mom a little too far by standing on the kitchen counter and shouting, "Woman, feed me!" Then the chase around the house begins, but unlike times before his Mom catches him. And he bites her. That's when Max decides to run away to a place where he can be wild and free.

While in the woods near his house Max discovers a sailboat and sails away. He wants to sail to his Dad in the city but ends up on an island inhabited by The Wild Things. Much like the Sendak classic, Max tames the wild beasts, becomes their King, and takes them on a wild rumpus. But Eggers creates a more intricate, darker world where The Wild Things have distinct personalities and feelings, and they really don't like it when you dismiss their feelings or hurt them. In fact, some of them really want to eat Max up.

At first, the story is magical. The lush descriptions of this dream-like landscape and the eccentric larger than life creatures are captivating. But, as the story progresses, the politics of the island make the story disturbing and scary. Basically, it's just like life and growing up.

I enjoyed it. The story was well-crafted and interesting. I was glad the core theme of the story remained the same--Max wanted to be "where someone loved him best of all." And, at the end of the day, that's all anyone, young and old, wants.

It was nice to revisit a childhood classic through adult eyes. I checked out the children's book to compare and contrast, which was a great trip as well. Now I look forward to seeing the movie on DVD.

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