Highlights: Life Itself, by Roger Ebert

The life of a man whose death was untimely, and never would have been timely. An entertaining book and recommended read, especially if you like movies, the art of journalism, or the state of Illinois.

I lack the energy to summarize the book, and lives are hard to summarize anyway. So instead, here are some of the best lines (from a man who averaged 1.2 great lines per review).


On Art Petacque, Ebert’s colleague at theĀ Chicago Tribune:

“He was our mob reporter. He was priceless for his sources. He was the only Chicago newsman who knew all mob nicknames. It was rumored he invented many of the nicknames himself.

“Nobody ever complained. What would Joey “The Clown” Lombardo do? Write a letter to the editor?”


Instructions from a journalist to scientists posing for a photo with their cutting-edge physics equipment, sometime in the 1950s:

“You’re puttin’ in the atom, splittin’ it, and standing around lookin’ at the pieces.”


On his wife, Chaz Ebert:

“Her love letters were poetic, idealistic, and sometimes passionate. I responded as a man and a lover. As a newspaperman, I observed that she never, ever made a copy-reading error.”


On politics:

“I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into Heaven.”


On telling the truth:

“I will write this book only once and might as well not make it fiction.”

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