Book Review: Life Itself, a Memoir by Roger Ebert

A book review on a movie website? Well, yes. Roger Ebert is arguably the best-known film critic in America and he has written a book about his life, itself.

If you’re looking for a trip through Ebert’s long list of movies and movie stars, grab one of his previous books. In Life Itself, he mentions a few moviemakers he’s fond of, such as Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen and Werner Herzog. He shares thoughts about a handful of stars like Robert Mitchum (his favorite), John Wayne and Lee Marvin.

But the main content of the book is his life’s high points and the challenges he has faced. High points have included being named film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times at an early age, teaming with Gene Siskel to review movies on TV and meeting and marrying his wife Chaz. He writes lovingly of visits to London, Venice and Boulder (Colorado). He devotes one chapter to praise for Steak’n’Shake.

Ebert’s challenges have included his alcoholism and his cancer that has left him unable to eat, drink or speak. He also had issues with his mother—her late-in-life alcoholism and her efforts to control his life into adulthood.

The loss of his speaking voice has caused Roger Ebert to focus on writing as a way to communicate. His natural writing talents combine with his lengthy writing experience to deliver remembrances and observations that reveal much about the man.

To write a memoir or autobiography requires a healthy ego. Ebert revels in the triumphs that have occurred throughout his life, but maintains enough humility in this book to remain human and likeable. Read and enjoy.

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