The New York Review of Magazines

Roger Ebert Discusses His Esquire Profile

By Joel Meares

Chris Jones’ profile of Roger Ebert in Esquire’s March edition is one of the finest pieces of magazine writing I have read in years. Jones’ intimate take on Ebert’s day-to-day life: That now famous photo of the critic’s sagging, jawless face, the high drama of the voiceless Ebert angrily enlarging the type on his computer screen – it’s a kind of brilliance. Jones’ prose, the images, and the post-it notes across the page all demonstrate the power of the printed magazine.

In his response to Jones’ article, posted to his Sun-Times blog, Ebert demonstrates the power of the Internet to strike up and extend conversation. Graceful in his take on Jones’ piece, Ebert praises the writer, while at the same time honestly delving into that strange shock all subjects feel when they read what is written about them. In response to Jones’ line about “dying in increments,” he writes:

“Well, we’re all dying in increments. I don’t mind people knowing what I look like, but I don’t want them thinking I’m dying. To be fair, Chris Jones never said I was. If he took a certain elegiac tone, you know what? I might have, too. And if he structured his elements into a story arc, that’s just good writing. He wasn’t precisely an eyewitness the second evening after Chaz had gone off to bed and I was streaming Radio Caroline and writing late into the night. But that’s what I did. It may be, the more interviews you’ve done, the more you appreciate a good one. I knew exactly what he started with, and I could see where he ended, and he can be proud of the piece.”

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