"And when he came to the place where the wild things are..."
UPDATE: Fresh Air has released a 45-minute memorial compilation of Terry Gross's interviews with Maurice Sendak from 1986-2011. It's fascinating to hear how his voice grows pleasantly gruff with age. (The compilation includes material described in the September 2011 podcast listed below.)
Online link for "Fresh Air Remembers Maurice Sendak".
"I am in love with the world"
The great thing about Maurice Sendak, apart from his immortal opus and his gleeful bicuspids, is that he never became pompous or preening or patronizing. His late interviews are seminars in how to live impishly and passionately up until the last minute, and though I was sad to learn of Sendak's death on May 7, 2012, when I re-listened to his September 2011 Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, I was consoled by Sendak's satisfaction with his own life ("I'm happy," "It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to take the time to read the books, to listen to the music,") and his bracing acceptance of death ("Oh God, there are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready.")
Sendak's last Fresh Air interview is perhaps not the interview to start with, because it is lachrymose with Sendak's grief over the deaths of people he's loved, so I would save it for last. Here is a suggested order of listening for my top Sendak audio and visual interviews (not all are available on podcast):
TateShots on Sendak's Illustrious Inspirations (December 2011)
In this 5-minute video interview from the UK's Tate museum Sendak talks about the inspirations for his art, including William Blake, Philip Otto Runge and other German Romantic painters. It shows Sendak's bookshelves and framed prints and his dog, Herman (named after Melville).
Online page for the TateShots interview with Maurice Sendak.
Downloadable iTunes link for the TateShots interview with Maurice Sendak.
Bill Moyers Uncovers the Genesis of Where The Wild Things Are (2004)
This 17-minute video interview with Bill Moyers on PBS's "Now" program is one of the best on the familial inspirations and drawing-limitation origins of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, plus his attitudes about children's literature (which Moyers suggests is "like fighting guerrilla warfare"), Sendak's collaboration with über-editor Ursula Nordstrom, and the childhood fears instilled by the Lindbergh baby abduction.
Online link for Maurice Sendak discussing his work with Bill Moyers.
Marker-Sniffing à Deux on the The Colbert Report (2011)
Most everyone I know has already seen these. A pair of delightfully acerbic, giddy and impish video interviews, conducted at Sendak's home in Connecticut, replete with middle school shenanigans. The universe is lucky Colbert filmed these when he did.
Online page for "Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Part 1" (7 1/2 minutes)
Online page for "Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Part 2" (7 minutes)
Sendak's Last Fresh Air Appearance (September 2011)
Ostensibly scheduled to promote the release of Sendak's Bumble-ardy, this 18-minute interview with Terry Gross quickly deepens into a discussion of life, lost friends and lovers, the beauty of the world, Sendak's philosophical attitude toward death. It concludes with his heartfelt benediction for Gross: "Live your life, live your life, live your life."
Online link to Maurice Sendak's last appearance on Fresh Air.
iTunes link to Maurice Sendak's last appearance on Fresh Air (starts roughly 21 minutes in).