Book Review: Roger Ebert: Life Itself
When hearing the name Roger Ebert, many people picture a short chubby man who argues about movies. Those who follow his work closely (like me) realize that he's also an accomplished writer who provides valuable insight on a range of topics including movies. With the publishing of "Life Itself" both casual viewers and loyal fans of Ebert get a extensive view of the man behind the image.
If you follow Roger's blog, you have a general idea of his health issues. He had cancerous tumors removed from glands in his neck a few years ago. The surgery was more extensive than had been predicted and required Ebert's lower jaw to be removed. After several failed attempts at reconstruction, he has resigned himself to accept his current status. He's no longer able to speak, eat, or drink.
While many people would retire or fall into depression, Ebert has remained active and arguably, is more productive than ever before. In my opinion, Ebert has had a surge of introspection due to his close encounters with mortality. I think the book says this too, but never in such a direct way. His online journal is constantly updated with personal stories and opinions while his following on Facebook and Twitter have never been better. He won the Webby "Person of the year" award in 2010 and was honored with a lifetime achievement award by that association. Though he's lost his voice, he's gained a powerful, inspirational voice in the virtual world.
"Life Itself" is a culmination of Ebert's personal journals. Many of the stories are actually reprinted directly from his blog. Other chapters contain interviews and essays he wrote earlier in his career. This may seem like a cheap way to make a book longer, but when read along with the new material one views the articles with a perspective that is otherwise impossible.Continued on the next page