"On Tuesday, Mr. Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December, and would be taking 'a leave of presence.' In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote 'I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.'"
Working on something he loved right up to the last minute, despite all adversity....
I'm sorry to see him go. I met him once at a bookstore event. I was with my son Chris — a big movie-lover — who was young and excited about meeting Ebert, so I waited in line. For some reason, the book we had in hand for signing was "Two Weeks In Midday Sun : A Cannes Notebook," which has not just writing by Ebert, but drawings — line drawings. As Chris was interacting with him, I said that I loved the drawings.
I was, at the time, immensely interested in travel sketchbooks, most notably Bill Griffith's "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry." I, myself, traveled with a sketchbook and a fountain pen (and no camera) and made my trips all about drawings. So I was sincere in my enthusiasm for his drawing, and he immediately said that the drawings were very bad.
Oh, no, I love them, I said. They're very charming! Afterwards, I realized that it was absurd for me to encourage his drawings and baby him about their charm. Look at how he joyfully brutalized the bad films, even collecting the meanest reviews in books with titles like "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie." He was a critic, and I was being uncritical.
I must have sounded like a kindergarten teacher to him. I didn't have the time to talk about the Griffith tradition and my own adventures in Amsterdam. It was just a book signing encounter. Move along. No connection made.
There are many, many Roger Ebert books of course.