'Where the Wild Things Are': First look at screenwriter Dave Eggers' novelization

05f729c40d195bcb63fa94190a3fdaddLike many fans of Maurice Sendak’s classic 1963 children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, I’ve been curious about how Spike Jonze’s upcoming live-action movie would expand the original 16-sentence story to feature-film length. We get our first extended glimpse of the answer to that question in this week’s New Yorker, which publishes an excerpt from Dave Eggers’ novelization of the screenplay that he and Jonze wrote for the movie. (Eggers’ McSweeney’s imprint also announced plans to publish the novelization, titled The Wild Things, in a special $28 faux-fur-covered edition in October; a PETA-approved non-fuzzy edition will cost $19.95.)

In the New Yorker excerpt, “Max at Sea,” we get a good deal of backstory and many new names. There are references to our hero Max’s third-grade science teacher, Mr. Malhotra; to an older sister, Claire, whose tobacco-chewing friends bury Max in his own snow fort, prompting Max to seek prankish revenge; to his parents’ divorce some three years ago; and to his mother’s chinless new boyfriend, Gary. Once Max runs away from home (clad in his white wolf costume, which the much-reviled Gary mistakes for a bunny outfit) and sails to a distant island, we also get names for some of the previously nameless Wild Things: The giant rooster is Douglas, the horned creature with red hair is Judith, the bulbous-nosed one is Ira, and the main Wild Thing instigator with the horizontal stripes on his torso is named, improbably, Carol (but he’s a guy). As you might expect in any Dave Eggers opus, the story is chock-a-block with the author’s particular brand of whimsy, often presented in old-fashioned, sometimes precious locutions like this: “Pâté was a regrettable name for an unfortunate food. It seemed to Max a good idea to get up from the chair and to leap onto the counter. Which he presently did.”

I’m certainly intrigued. How about you? Let the wild rumpus begin in the comments section.

Comments (6 total) Add your comment
  • Emily

    Read Max at Sea yesterday on the NYer. Great piece. Looking forward to reading this.

  • Dom

    I just read the whole thing from The New Yorker. It made me want to see the movie even more than before!

  • Sara

    I think this movie looks great! Can’t wait to see it. This book was one of my favorites as a child.

  • elly

    Well now, that is a very interesting way of distinguishing a film adaptation as something related to but separate from its source material. Great idea!

  • Douglas Bowker

    Looks horrendously bad- a grown man’s reverse infantile version of a kid’s mind, except that noi kid thinks like that. Only men who need therapy but find there own childish navel gaving to be a good excuse for brooding. I’ll go read the book again- the one of wonder and longing and forgiveness- the real one.

  • stephen ferraro

    Musical score & soundtrack should be masterful like a Blues/rock, Jazz & Dance mix of Fantasia.

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