Cool Stuff: Dave Eggers' Wild Things Novel

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Amazon are now taking pre-orders for The Wild Things, Dave Eggers' novel "based loosely on the storybook by Maurice Sendak and the screenplay cowritten with Spike Jonze". The hardback is set to street in October, just ahead of the Where the Wild Things Are movie. Jonze' film must be one of my most anticipated pictures of the year, and to think... well, to think how close we were to losing it for a while.

You might want the standard edition

hardback, or perhaps a fur-covered edition

. After the break, the full official blurb, as well as Eggers on the hows, whys and wherefores of this particular evolution of the story.

Here's the sales spiel as run on Amazon:

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.

Well pitched, blurbmeister. I'm sold. I'm also very interested in this "loosely based" business. Just how different will the film and the novel be?

Speaking to The Montreal Gazette way back in December 2007, Eggers explained how the book was conceived, and what aims he has for it:

When we were in the middle of [the screenplay], Maurice [Sendak] called me and somebody had brought up the idea of there being a novel, too, and he asked me if I would do it.

We all really get along – Spike and Maurice and I always had the same goals for the movie, and the novelization, too, which was to sort of reinstitute the dangerous elements of that book. Because when it came out, it was pretty controversial and some librarians didn't like it, and child psychologists thought it was, you know, unhelpful. And it was really morally ambiguous in a way. It showed a kid sort of disobeying his mother and acting crazy – which all kids do, but you still don't see much of in children's literature. It's too often, I think, washed clean.

Spike and Maurice and I just decided we needed to make the book wild and dangerous again and really unexpected. So the movie is really unlike anything anyone will expect, I think. And the book is different from both of them, actually. It has Max and Max going to an island, but in the book I'm able to [develop] the storyline also – as a book can always do. You have a lot more room to play with. The book is 150 words, the movie is 90 minutes, the novel gets to be a whole different level.

The Montreal Gazette also asked if the novel would be illustrated, Eggers told them it would not be. I'd have loved a couple of new Sendak pictures perhaps, but alas it seems I'll be left wanting.

On the evidence of the screenplay, the test footage, the trailer and eye-witness testimony, I'm sure that this film is something at once magical and melancholy, sweet and a little sharp, dreamy and quietly dangerous. Don't underestimate this one.