Roger Ebert’s certainly been through a hell of a lot. He lost the ability to speak from a terrible bout with cancer, but it hasn’t slowed down his writing, or his enthusiasm for living.
His newly published memoir, Life Itself, is clear proof of this.
Life Itself has been getting very positive reviews all across the board, and it also proves how important one’s art can be for sustaining your quality of life.
In NPR’s review of the book, John Powers writes, “After cancer forced him from his TV show, [Ebert] reinvented himself as a hugely successful blogger… It’s probably the best writing he’s ever done.
“And it’s all the more impressive because life dealt him a hard blow with a disease that keeps him for eating, drinking or talking – three things he obviously loved. But rather than sinking into a funk or hiding away, he’s gone on with his life, and one of the many admirable features of his new book is its sunniness. It’s wholly free from the complaining and self-pity so popular in memoirs these days.”
In a widely acclaimed profile in Esquire, Chris Jones noted that with Ebert losing his lower jaw, and being able to speak, “Television’s most famous movie critic is rarely seen and never heard, but his words have never stopped…”
During their interviews, Ebert wrote a Post-It note to Jones that read: “There is no need to pity me. Look how happy I am. This has led to an exploding of writing.”
In his online journal, Ebert also wrote, “When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.”
The Atlantic also ran “15 Reflections” from the book, and my favorite that I’ve read so far, is Ebert coming to terms with what he’s been through, and how his art has sustained him.
“What’s sad about not eating is the experience… The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments, and memories I miss. Maybe that’s why writing has become so important to me. You don’t realize it, but we’re at dinner right now.”