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Reader interview: He gives Roger Ebert’s memoir two thumbs up

Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

This week's Page Turner reader interview is with Jonah Crismore, executive director of the Fort Wayne Cinema Center.

“I am currently reading a couple of things. One book is 'A Land More Kind Than Home,' written by Wiley Cash. It is kind of a multifaceted mystery. The kids' home life is not great, and the two brothers stumble upon a secret in their North Carolina home. It's a thriller, but I'm not very far into it yet.

“I read a blog that led me to this. My wife works as a temp at the library and recommends books, too. I like ebooks. I can check out books to my iPad and find it very convenient — easier to read than an actual physical copy, and it's right there with me.

“The other book I'm reading now is Roger Ebert's memoir, 'Life Itself.' He has led an interesting life, and he's surprised that films are so important to him. When he was in elementary school, he started 'publishing' a neighborhood paper, and he thought he would grow up to be a feature or sports writer.

“He grew up in an Illinois college town, and his father wanted him to become a college professor — to use his mind, not his hands, as his father did to make a living. So he had a liberal arts education and then he was hired by the Sun-Times to do movie reviews. It was the right world for him! He doesn't believe he will ever retire. He is still writing, despite some difficult health issues, but no longer talking. He says about 85 percent of his readers agree with his opinions.

“Of all the books I've ever read, I think I'd choose Flannery O'Connor's 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find' as a favorite. The book is shocking, beautiful and grotesque on the surface, but each character finds an understanding — has an epiphany.

“The stories take on a different meaning as you grow up and have your own life experiences, and you see what Flannery O'Connor meant. I go back to this book every couple of years and find something new. I like her other writing, too. In her novel 'Wise Blood,' she goes all over the place about religion — a man struggling with religion.

“I very much enjoyed 'A Fairy Tale New York' about films that are influential — tragic but also funny. You know how something can make you sad but then you also laugh. The author is J. P. Donleavy, who also wrote 'The Ginger Man,' which is much more mature.

“I also regularly read material about the film industry. One publication in particular I subscribe to is 'Filmmaker,' which I find very helpful. It's full of useful information.”