By Roger Ebert
(Grand Central Publishing)
Always strongest as a writer, Roger Ebert of “thumbs-up, thumb down” movie review fame has penned his memoir Life Itself perfectly, running us through his childhood, his early days working on a newspaper, his liberal college days (and a stint studying in Africa), some eye-opening anecdotes about movie stars you might not have ever heard of (though the stories are great all the same) and his harrowing years of thyroid cancer and how it has colored his world-view in the most positive of ways. Ebert’s words speak in a way he is unable to (he hasn’t been able to eat or speak since 2006), his mind perfectly clear, remembering events as if they occurred only yesterday (a happenstance he constantly champions).
The way he describes his early glory days working in Chicago’s venerable fourth estate alone is one of the best accounts of the newspaper biz I have ever read.
A good memoir, it includes colorful characters and Ebert’s is replete with them, from his childhood friends, teachers (even some nuns), side-kick partner Gene Siskel, his amazing wife Chaz and well-known Chicago celebs like Studs Terkel and filmmaker friends like Russ Meyer. He also has a passion for places here and abroad and Ebert’s is some of the most eloquent writing I have come across about how a man can feel about a place!
Roger Ebert’s Life Itself is a sumptuous treat from a man who might not be able to eat anymore, but one that can certainly cook….a great book.