First, let me say, if you haven't read the piece on Roger Ebert in the new issue of Esquire, go here and do that first. Second, if you have an RSS reader, subscribe to his blog here. His recent entries on London are fantastic, and I was happily surprised we share an affinity for England, and they are a great example of his writing.
Now, I've probably lost everyone who came here to read this, as both of those will be more interesting than anything I write, but I had to say. But I wanted to add my thoughts:
I absolutely love reading Roger's reviews of movies, and was thrilled when he "got back to work" writing them after his surgeries. Other than the comedy genre, I'll find myself in agreement with him on films so often that my wife half-jokes that we can't go to see a movie unless we get Ebert's approval first.
I always liked movies, anyone who has looked at the number of titles I've rated on my Netflix account (2,686 as of today) could probably guess that, but reading Ebert's reviews really taught me how to love movies. His writing turned me from someone who would go see a movie because of the actors into someone who would go see a movie because of the director. I've also come to agree with him that the subject matter of a film isn't nearly as important as the way in which the subject is handled. In short, he's been a great teacher, and often now when I finish watching a film, the first place I go (after rating it on Netflix) is to read his review, to see what he thought of it.
While cancer has robbed Roger Ebert of his voice and his ability to eat and drink, it has rewarded the rest of us by forcing him to join the the Internet with his blog. As the Esquire piece mentions, the writing there is fantastic, and I can't help but assume that he'd never have had the time or, indeed, the necessity to start his blog if he hadn't suffered such a loss.
As the Esquire piece makes clear, he certainly doesn't waste a great deal of time on self-pity. In fact, I think he is very lucky. He's fortunate enough to be able to write exceptionally well in an age, and in a medium (the Internet) in which even writing coherently is a rarity. I found myself wondering the other day how many people could give up their (audible) voices as easily as he did, and survive on only what they could write? I don't mean to make it sound like it was no big thing, as it obviously was, but his writing makes it so clear that he is still here, and is still himself, despite whatever the cancer may have taken from him physically. I think that the majority of people would seem to be "gone" in the same condition, because their primary method of communication would have left, and they wouldn't have such a powerful substitute.
In this case, the cancer didn't attack someone who was defenseless, and rob them of an integral part of their humanity. Instead, it forced his writing talent to compensate for the loss of his voice, with the end result being some of the most personal, touching, and humorous writing I've ever seen anywhere. So much so, in fact, that I almost feel guilty for enjoying the fruits of the obvious suffering he has gone through. Not guilty enough to stop reading them, though! :)
So, in the event he notices this trackback to his blog, let me just say: Thank You, Mr. Ebert, and keep up the good work!
For the rest of you, here are some links to some great entries he's written: