Literary Mixtape: Max from 'Where the Wild Things Are'


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Maurice Sendak’s ultimate wild child, Max.

At the beginning of Maurice Sendak’s sumptuous picture book, Max is a mischievous child who mildly terrorizes his family in a wolf costume, making so much trouble that his mother sends him to bed without supper. Angry, Max travels to the world of wild things, where he is crowned king. A ‘wild rumpus’ ensues, and Max may act out his animal instincts as he pleases, with monsters that seem to be exaggerated visions of himself. A traditional quest narrative in many ways, Max goes out into the wild to discover something about himself, then returns a changed man — er, boy — able to see the real world differently. When he gets homesick, he climbs back into his bedroom and finds his supper waiting for him after all, still hot, the love of a mother paramount.

Stream the full literary mixtape here.

“Wild Thing” — The Troggs

Well, we had to. But aside from the obvious parallels, this is exactly the kind of track Max might discover among his mother’s old records, and then secretly dance around in his room to.

“The Ballad of Butter Beans” — Man Man

The perfect, spastic soundtrack to dancing, prowling and shrieking nonsense in an enchanted forest with a new posse of monsters at your side. Plus, something tells us all the alliteration would appeal to him.

“Duck People Duck Man” — Megapuss

This sonic celebration of weirdness in Devendra Banhart’s soothing tones would only affirm Max’s convictions. And as the king of all wild things, he’d better be cool with his singularity.

“Filthy and Free” — Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers

Shilpa Ray would definitely be the first girl Max ever fell in love with. That voice enough is enough to charm any restless, adventure-happy kid into starry eyed submission.

“The Naming of Things” — Andrew Bird

For laying on his back in the grass, squinting up into the sunlight and imagining the creation of this world and many others.

“Land of the Freak” — King Khan & the Shrines

Adventure porn in sonic form.

“Who Could Win A Rabbit?” — Animal Collective

This spastic, psychedelic song would be perfect for holding hands with three monsters and whirling around in circles as fast as you could go. That’s a wild rumpus if we’ve ever seen one.

“Monsters” — The Boy Least Likely To

Max probably wouldn’t get the metaphor, but that wouldn’t stop him from loving the world created in this song. Someone can just explain it to him when he’s older.

“The Ocean Breathes Salty” — Modest Mouse

Max obviously needs some seafaring music for his trip to the land of the Wild Things.

“Bad Kids” — Black Lips

All bad kids love to glorify their obnoxiousness, and Max is no different. Maybe when he returns from his time as king of the wild things, he will listen to this song in a different way.