I’m not sure how old I was when I wrote Roger Ebert a letter asking for his advice on how to become a film critic, but judging from the other documents in the manila envelope where I’ve kept his response ever since, I must have been somewhere between 11 and 13. Ebert’s prompt and kind answer, typed on Chicago Sun-Times stationery using a typewriter with a wonky T key, took my query more seriously than it deserved, suggesting colleges with strong film programs I might consider, advising me to “see all the good movies you can,” and most of all encouraging me to “write-write-write for anyplace that will print your stuff.”
I’m in the midst of writing a longer reflection on Ebert’s life—not an easy task to carry out while refreshing Twitter and crying—but since so many people are exchanging stories about how he touched their lives, I thought I’d share a copy of his warm and generous note to a preteen movie geek in Texas. Thank you for writing back, Roger.
TODAY IN SLATE
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.