A quote from Shel Silverstein, found in a New Yorker article from 2014, which I got to after Googling looking for criticism of the book "The Giving Tree," which Meade and I were talking about. What Silverstein said about that book is "It’s just a relationship between two people; one gives and the other takes" and "It’s about a boy and a tree. It has a pretty sad ending." I'd never read the book myself. Something about hearing other people talk about how deeply meaningful it was to them closed my mind to it. And I grew up thinking about Silverstein as a Playboy guy (Playboy being a fixture, as regular readers know, in the Althouse childhood home).
Silverstein's biographer said: "Given his disgust with the me-first attitude among the folksingers and other artists in the Village who were creating art as a form of self-analysis, it almost sounds like he wrote ['The Giving Tree'] as an experiment, a reaction to their own mushiness."
Yeah, that's the vibe I caught from a distance. And I couldn't project myself into the character of the boy, who I thought of as representing a man who frequented the Playboy mansion: "[H]e bedded hundreds, if not thousands, of women... Silverstein never intended to write or draw for children. He was often impatient around kids and... Silverstein never married and never wanted to have kids. But circumstances changed the year he turned forty, when one of his former Mansion 'playmates' gave birth to a daughter; in 1982, the girl, Shoshanna, died of a brain aneurysm at age eleven, a tragedy from which Silverstein is said to have never recovered."