Roger Ebert, not just the greatest movie critic of all time but one of the most influential thinkers and brilliant writers on any subject over the past four decades, has written his story in Life Itself: A Memoir. When he lost his ability to eat and speak following treatment for cancer, he says he “began to replace what I lost with what I remembered” and devoted the same piercing intelligence, fearless analysis, open-heartedness, and vitally engaging prose style to his own life. This is the man who wrote an entire book called I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, but who is even more passionate in writing about what he loves, loves, loves in books like Scorsese by Ebert and his collection of 4-Star reviews. His shot-by-shot commentary on “Citizen Kane” is one of the most thrilling experiences I have ever had watching a film as he helped me understand more richly and compellingly a movie I thought I already knew and appreciated.
In Life Itself, Ebert evocatively describes growing up as the only child in a college town, his passion for reading, his college days, becoming a journalist when the era of the two-fisted, fedora-wearing, “get me rewrite” days were not yet over and writers like Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Woodward and Bernstein were making journalism the world’s most exciting place to be. He writes about his interviews with the biggest stars and the most outrageous characters. And he brings the same unflinching honesty tempered with compassion to his own story, his struggles with alcohol, and, finally, just like in the movies, a beautiful love story when he meets his adored Chaz.
This is a fascinating book, one of the best books about movies and one of the best memoirs I have ever read. I have one copy to give away. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Ebert in the subject line and don’t forget your address. I’ll pick a random winner on November 6.