Did you know yesterday was Maurice Sendak day? No? Well you are forgiven since it was actually the inaugural holiday, as proclaimed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at last night’s 92 St Y event in honor of Sendak’s 80th birthday.
The sold-out celebration featured a star-studded line-up of self-confessed Sendak fans reading and singing from his work. Some of the highlights included Spike Jonze, who showed a clip from his upcoming adaption of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Meryl Streep, who gave an Oscar-worthy reading of The Note on Rosie’s Door, and Dave Eggers who shared an excerpt from his upcoming novel called “Wild Things,” which according to him is a story about the screenplay he helped write (in real life with Spike Jonze) about the book Where the Wild Things Are. Catherine Keener read from an acceptance speech Sendak gave when he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, in which he spoke about both his love of New York and of classical music. Keener finished off by offering Sendak the same wishes her own son had written to her in his last birthday card: I love you as much as a book loves it reader.
Sadly, it turns out due to a stalled 4 train FBNY missed the night’s opening: a reading of Where the Wild Things Are in Yiddish! However we were in time to catch James Gandolfini read In the Night Kitchen — “I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me!” — which you can also enjoy after the jump. Sendak himself closed out the evening with heartfelt thanks before remarking that nothing had changed in his 80 years except the miracle of reaching 80. He added that a lot of dim, nightmarish characters had been entering the American scene of late and that he hoped none of them had read his books as a child, because if they had “I have failed completely.” Gandolfini and The Night Kitchen after the jump.