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
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here
I feel like a kid in some kind of store.
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.