The last completed book we are likely to get from Maurice Sendak remembers a man he often insisted was the real genius of the family, his brother Jack.
Sendak died last May at age 83 after years of health problems, but had managed to finish "My Brother's Book," published this month. Admirers of "Where the Wild Things Are" and other Sendak stories will recognize its themes of danger, flight and fantasy captured in a dreamy-scary swirl that demonstrates Sendak's debt to William Blake.
Brothers Guy and Jack are blasted apart by a fiery star, Jack to "continents of ice" and Guy into the "lair of a bear" that attempts to choke Guy and devour him. Guy enrages the bear by asking him a riddle and is flung upon a "couch of flowers/in an ice-ribbed underworld." Inside a greenish curtain of blossoms, he spies the nose of Jack and bites it to make sure he has found him. "And Jack slept safe/Enfolded in his brother's arms/And Guy whispered 'Good night/And you will dream of me.' "
Tony Kushner, a close friend, says that Sendak spoke often of his brother, who died in 1995, and longed to see him again. The brothers had worked on art projects since they were kids, and Maurice illustrated two children's books by Jack. "My Brother's Book" is based on Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale," a bittersweet story of loss and reunion.
$18.95, 32 pages