When I found out Roger Ebert passed away, I felt hollow and sad. Much like the way I felt when Ray Bradbury died. He was my favorite short story writer. Most of the sadness has passed and I now feel inspired by the work they’ve both left behind.
Ray Bradbury was a brilliant writer. Most people would probably know him by his novel Fahrenheit 451, but I know him by his short story, “All Summer in a Day.” It’s the story of a girl named Margot who lives on Venus where it always rains and where the sun only comes out once every seven years. It is a wonderful short story I recommend checking out if you haven’t already read it. I read it for the first time when I was eight. It was one of the stories in the Great Books series given to me by my teacher. I read it over the summer and fell in love. I was most drawn to the human aspects and emotions of the story. “All Summer in a Day” changed the way I viewed story telling and writing by opening my mind to the possibility of constructing unhappy endings.
In the same respect, I found Roger Ebert to be a ridiculously talented writer and reviewer. I looked up to him in more ways than one. He went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, was in an interracial marriage, and loved the city of Chicago. I can relate to all of these things. I went to U of I, am in an interracial marriage, and love the city of Chicago.
Ebert wrote a great piece about his love for his wife. Check it out here: Roger Loves Chaz. It’s a good read. I have yet to write such a beautiful piece about my husband, but that’s another post for another day.
I attended the Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois with my husband one year. There Ebert showcased a brilliant documentary about amateur boxers. Afterwards was a Q & A session with the director, which I found fascinating. My husband and I were talking about the movie while exiting the theater when I looked over and saw Roger Ebert walking with two gentlemen. When we got outside, he walked past me and turned his head. He looked directly at me like I was the only person on the street. I said to him, “That was awesome!” His reply? “It was, wasn’t it?” And I shook my head yes. He could’ve very well left me hanging and not answered, but he didn’t. I will forever cherish that memory. Honestly, I thought I would have the opportunity to discuss his take on writing face to face one day, but I guess his books will have to do.
What an amazing legacy Ray Bradbury and Roger Ebert left behind.
I wonder if anybody else will ever come close to their genius.