The reaction at the office today to the death of newspaperman Roger Ebert was striking. I cannot think of another writer of American English with the same broad, beloved appeal.

One friend, a younger-generation journalist who’s from Chicago, sent around a collection of particularly delicious fragments from Ebert movie reviews, and I was struck by their ease: “Watching ‘Mad Dog Time’ is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line….” He was the kind of writer whose phrases had a comfortable feel, without pretense, as if we could have written them ourselves. Except we hadn’t.

I am not a movie person. I rarely set foot in a movie theater, don’t do Netflix. But I loved reading Ebert’s movie reviews in the Friday paper. I guess that is my praise – the guy made we want to read things about a subject in which I had no interest, just for the love of his easy way with words.

A writer’s writer.


One Comment

  1. Nicely put, John. Ebert was something special, although I tended to prefer the reviews from his partner, whether Siskel or Roper. His account of the night he suffered dire complications from a hospital stay is harrowing and haunts me years later. Seek out the AP obit that Abqjournal truncated — it’s well-written, I think. peace, mjh

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