Friday, September 23, 2011

This Writer's Life: Roger Ebert

Pulitzer Prize Winning film critic Roger Ebert admits the last thing he ever imagined happening to him was that he would lose his voice; lose his ability to speak. But in 2006, following complications relating to thyroid cancer, that is exactly what happened.

Today Ebert is back to reviewing movies, has his own television show and is known for running a very active Twitter account. He also has a new book coming out called Life Itself: A Memoir.

Despite the fact Ebert has no ability to communicate with his mouth his ability to communicate with his pen (or his laptop-whatever) is now stronger than ever. Ebert has found a new career as a social media communicator and found an audience ready to hear his opinions on film, the film-community and life itself.

When Ebert lost his voice in 2006, he said he was in a very dark place. Losing his voice was previously unthinkable to him. "For all the things that could have gone wrong with me, that was the last one," he said.

He stopped writing and watching movies and spent his days cooped up in bed, until his wife Chaz Hammelsmith brought him a DVD of a new movie she thought he might enjoy. That movie was The Queen, the Oscar-winning film starring Helen Mirren. Ebert found himself writing a review on a yellow legal pad. "Suddenly, I found myself back in business," he said. "Watching movies on DVD and writing about them."

Ebert went back to writing reviews for the Sun-Times, and also launched a blog and signed up for Twitter to get his voice out. "Memories came pouring out of my mind," he said. "There was a new urgency about the act of writing."

It was then that Ebert thought a memoir would be possible, especially after he realized there was a lot to write about outside of the movies. "I was afraid such a book would come down to a series of movie anecdotes and I didn't want to write a movie book," he said.

Life Itself tells the full story of his life and career for the first time: from his childhood in Urbana, Illinois, to his post as a reporter at his local daily, and to Chicago and the film critic position that changed his life. In his memoir, Ebert chronicles his brush with alcoholism, his marriage, his beliefs and the cast of characters he has met along the way.

Click here to read the entire interview with Ebert.

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