“The Wild Things” by Dave Eggers: Be Still My Heart

Why does this gross me out?

Is it just me?

Cashing in on  “a timeless and time-tested tale.” (What a phrase, oy.)

Just in time for the movie!

From Amazon.com:

Product Description
The Wild Things — based loosely on the storybook by Maurice Sendak and the screenplay cowritten with Spike Jonze — is about the confusions of a boy, Max, making his way in a world he can’t control. His father is gone, his mother is spending time with a younger boyfriend, his sister is becoming a teenager and no longer has interest in him. At the same time, Max finds himself capable of startling acts of wildness: he wears a wolf suit, bites his mom, and can’t always control his outbursts. During a fight at home, Max flees and runs away into the woods. He finds a boat there, jumps in, and ends up on the open sea, destination unknown. He lands on the island of the Wild Things, and soon he becomes their king. But things get complicated when Max realizes that the Wild Things want as much from him as he wants from them. Funny, dark, and alive, The Wild Things is a timeless and time-tested tale for all ages.

About the Author
DAVE EGGERS is the author of such bestselling works as A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), You Shall Know Our Velocity, and What Is the What. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house, and currently teaches writing in San Francisco at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring center and writing school for children that he cofounded with his wife, the novelist Vendela Vida.


Yes, as Nan commented below, McSweeney’s is threatening to publish a special “Ragbk,” fur-covered edition . . .


  1. Scope Notes says:

    Interesting. My first reaction (which I think is similar to yours) is “don’t mess with a good thing”. While I do think that this will be better than most attempts to revisit a classic (and most movie tie-ins for that matter) I’m not sure many folks will be running to read it. A side note: I saw a different, somewhat furrier, cover for this book (not sure if it is real or not) you can see it here: http://gawker.com/5295004/the-cover-for-dave-eggers-new-book-is-just-precious

  2. Jimmy says:

    Yes, I did see the furry cover. My reaction wasn’t so much “don’t mess with a good thing,” as general dismay at the crass commercialism of it. The sales force’s fingerprints are all over it.

    I guess I had a similar take on the “39 Clues” bombast. The books are possibly fine, and likely even better than that. But the whole driving force is marketing, sales, shifting units; it just doesn’t seem authentic. I don’t know, as if the very first idea was: How can we make more money? Hmmmm . . .

    Not that making money is a bad thing. It’s necessary. It’s just that, well, I don’t think that’s how even Harry Potter got started.

    But you know, I was just reading yesterday that we were in the post-authentic age — I’m not kidding — so, you know, whatever. If a kid likes “Wild Things” or “39 Steps” or the next latest greatest vampire love story, I can’t object. But it still leaves me with an uneasy feeling in my gut.

  3. Jimmy says:

    I should add:

    I don’t like Disneyworld. Or land. Or whatever.

    But I’m guessing maybe you figured that out.

  4. Nan Hoekstra says:

    Well, JP, I don’t know. I thought you were making parts of your post up. That fiction thing you do. So I went to Amazon myself. Scrolled down a bit and found this additional title:
    The Wild Things Fur-covered Edition (Rag Book)by Dave Eggers. Comments?

  5. jimmy says:

    Thanks for bringing the links, folks.

    Yes, Kurtis (author of the critically-acclaimed book, MUDVILLE), I’ve been following the Salinger lawsuit.

    I’m rooting for old J.D.

    And yes, Nan, I’ve seen an image of the special fur-cover edition of “Wild Things.” Those marketing guys/gals can be pretty clever. Nice research skills, by the way, Nan.

  6. Just to say the publisher of the fur-edition, McSweeney, more often than not does some sort of non-conventional packaging. “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern publishes on a roughly quarterly schedule, and we try to make each issue very different from the last. One issue came in a box, one was Icelandic, and one looks like a pile of mail. In all, we give you groundbreaking fiction and much more.” I’ve got a bunch of their publications and they are incredibly cool. As for Eggers, in addition to being a very interesting writer, he originated 826 Valencia, a terrific writing center for kids. I have to assume that Sendak is on board with this, unlike Salinger.

  7. My apologies — just saw that much of what I wrote was in the amazon bio you quoted. But I do think Eggers is a thoughtful and interesting writer and (with again the assumption that Sendak is okay with this — he seems to have been on board for the movie) am waiting to see what this book is all about.

  8. jimmy says:

    Monica, thanks for posting, it’s great to hear a publisher’s perspective. I have no problem with the fur-covered book; I think it’s kind of fun.

    As for Eggers, hey, whatever. He’s basically doing a novelization based on the screenplay, right? I’ve done those, just not this upscale. Everybody’s got to eat.

    I think there is a distinction between reading an old children’s book and being inspired by it, inspired to write in response to it, compared to it all being timed to a movie release and a huge marketing push.

    At the same time, can great art come from commercial motivations? Absolutely, positively. It has happened all the time throughout history. So again, I get that and don’t have an issue with anybody trying to make money.

    The thing is that it’s being done on the back of what is arguably the greatest children’s picture book of all time. So, again, it just gives me a bad feeling. What’s next? A re-imagining of Charlotte’s Web, told from Templeton’s POV?

  9. I completely understand your reservations and have them too while at the same time I’m hopeful that it will be something of interest. Based on what I’ve seen so far about the movie I have already figured this is more on the “inspired” by it than anything faithful at all. (I have to say that I think CW from Templeton’s POV would be a lot of fun! On the other hand HarperCollins did some really lame movie tie-ins when that movie came out a few years ago.)

  10. Jimmy says:

    I just had a funny thought. You know how you’ll see a burst on a book cover: “INSPIRED BY THE MOVIE!” or “INSPIRED BY THE CLASSIC CHILDREN’S BOOK!” or whatever?

    Wouldn’t it be great to see one that read: “INSPIRED BY THE CONTRACT!”


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