Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Wild Things - Dave Eggers

Eggers's latest quick read is based upon Maurice Sendak's childrens' book, Where the Wild Things Are and the recent movie based upon that book. I have yet to see the movie, so I am not sure how much of this is Eggers or the movie, but it is the same basic story of the out-of-control and misunderstood Max who travels to a strange world with even stranger creatures. In full novel form, however, the reader becomes more aligned with Max and his childish need to rebel in the name of fun. We also get to know each of the creatures, and their individual personalities. Though based on the childrens' book, the language and insight of this version is decidedly for a more mature audience. When I was a kid, my take-home message from the childrens' book was that even when home seems terrible and you've been sent to your room without dinner, in the end, there is no place like home and your mom who loves you no matter what. Some of that feeling is present in this version. It is clear that Max cannot remain with the creatures - not because he misses his family, but because he can't allow himself to turn into a monster. And in this realization, I felt much more of a sadness that Max's home life was unsatisfying and would ultimately put an end to his wild imagination. Perhaps, that's what growing up is all about - but luckily the whimsy that is present in this book is evidence that at least for Eggers, child-like wonder can live on through adulthood. In the end, I am definitely mixed in my review - I'm not sure childrens' classics should be redone in this way. There is something about holding on to the story as we first heard it, read it, and loved it that simply cannot be duplicated or improved upon.

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