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.
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