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Life Itself: A Memoir | [Roger Ebert]

Life Itself: A Memoir

Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer.
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Publisher's Summary

"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."
—from Life Itself

Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including 23 years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.

In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career.

Roger Ebert's journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily, and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for the Sun-Times, launching a lifetime's adventures.

In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer (for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie). He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.

This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir-it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself.

©2011 Roger Ebert (P)2011 Hachette Audio

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  •  
    Bill at Torg Stories Indiana native in New England 04-25-13
    Bill at Torg Stories Indiana native in New England 04-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "The Newspaper Business in Chicago"

    I mentally noted chapter 13 for when I began to get really interested in this book. Once I got past childhood and into Roger getting his first job, this really picked up for me. Given Roger's lifetime of watching movies, it was interesting to hear his opinions on film and about all the experiences he's had talking with filmmakers and actors. Lots of excellent travel stories related to film festivals.

    Oh yeah! Getting started in TV was also a great story. Roger's wife Chaz is an inspiration. What an amazing woman.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Centennial, Wyoming, United States 03-03-13
    Linda Centennial, Wyoming, United States 03-03-13 Member Since 2011

    buffalogirlofwy

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    "Surprisingly funny, poignant and beautiful."
    If you could sum up Life Itself in three words, what would they be?

    A must read.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Life Itself?

    I cannot pull one thing out. It was all memorable. Roger Ebert expresses so many emotions that I believe we all feel, but cannot speak of. The humility and tenderness of his self observation, his downfalls, his successes, all revealed to me a man I really didn't know anything about, though I watched him on TV for years. He is so much more than a movie critic. And he has found peace and joy even in his tragedies. I recommend this highly to everyone, as I can not imagine a person who would not be moved.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Oh, there were so many. I'm going to listen again.


    Any additional comments?

    Roger Ebert is truly a bright star of a person, one so needed in this world today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley F. Brander montana 07-28-14
    Shelley F. Brander montana 07-28-14 Member Since 2012

    brandergal

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I wanted to love it but....."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I love Roger Ebert, faithfully read his blogs and watched him on his television shows. However, I found this memoir hard to listen to, as it weirdly repeated phrases and events in more than one chapter in the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Hatcher Dallas, TX United States 07-19-13
    J. Hatcher Dallas, TX United States 07-19-13

    timboytx

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    "Ebert is best enjoyed when he writes about others"
    What would have made Life Itself better?

    Less detail! Pages and pages and pages were spent on the tiniest details that I had absolutely no interest in. I have been a fan of Ebert's for years, but in this work he seems endlessly enamored of his own ability to recall facts from his past, giving no thought to whether anyone will care.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Roger Ebert again?

    I have always enjoyed Ebert's writing, but I know now to avoid pieces he writes about himself.


    Did Edward Herrmann do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Edward Herrmann's voice began to take on a tone of superiority and self-importance, but I suspect that was due to the words he was reading.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Life Itself?

    The chapters about his experiences with notable people in the film industry can stay just as they are. All the material about his childhood could be compressed into 50% of the space, and half of the minutia about his adult life could be cut away with no detriment to the work as a whole.


    Any additional comments?

    I cannot recommend this book. But I still think of Ebert as a talented movie critic whose writings on film I always enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dj Waltham, ME, USA 06-14-13
    dj Waltham, ME, USA 06-14-13 Member Since 2004

    "Rose goes in the front big guy."

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    "An Owner's Manual for Living a Fulfilled Life"

    Roger Ebert might just have been the happiest man alive – I know that’s not true, but it may be close. He’s either the greatest liar or luckiest man who ever lived; I believe the later.

    He shares with us his life – though he doesn’t pat himself on the back for doing some of it right or wallow in misery for the things he did wrong (particularly alcoholism) – he really does celebrate all of it in these pages. I sincerely thank him for that.

    This is a book that clearly demonstrates that it’s the little things in a life that make it grand – he spends more time telling us about his inability to rid himself of a single one of the books he’s owned in his life than he does aggrandizing the life of the most celebrated movie critic ever.

    He shares the love he had for the people in his life – the newspaper friends, his parents, and his beloved wife. He shares the joy he felt in revisiting the little places he had found and loved in cities around the world. He shares the wonder found in books, movies, and life in general.

    This really is a book that makes me want to be a better person – and one that shows me the way to go about it. I can’t recommend it more enthusiastically. Listen to it twice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    danny lawrence Charlotte, NC USA 12-08-12
    danny lawrence Charlotte, NC USA 12-08-12 Member Since 2006

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One and a half thumbs up"

    This wasnt an incredibly in depth memoir but some of the Hollywood Elite stories made this a mostly fun and entertaining listen. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and others kept it interesting. Edward Herrman did a fantastic job with the narration. A light take on the life and career of one of the most famous movie critics in american media history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Bradenton, Florida, United States 11-26-12
    Andy Bradenton, Florida, United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Two thumbs up!"
    What did you love best about Life Itself?

    I enjoyed hearing how Ebert gained his fame. Many of the stories and anecdotes about famous people are interesting. I was a big fan of his show and still to this day value his reviews over anyone else's.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    His reading makes this book much more enjoyable. This could have been a dry, slow collection of old stories but the narration makes this very easy to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    As another reviewer said the first one third of the book is a bit slow. The repetition of some stories is odd. Overall it was an easy listen and if you are an Ebert fan you should enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lisa cheek Santa Monica, CA United States 02-14-13
    lisa cheek Santa Monica, CA United States 02-14-13

    A film editor who loves a great story.

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    "Boring. Don't bother!"
    How could the performance have been better?

    Narration was boring along with the story. Get Rob Lowe's book...you won't be sorry.


    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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