“Writing Worth Reading” will be an ongoing feature of this blog wherein I will link to or recommend a piece of writing that I think showcases someone writing very well.

To start off this feature, I’m recommending two pieces.  The first is a piece from “Esquire” magazine about Roger Ebert, the film critic.  It was written by a man named Chris Jones.  The second selection is Mr. Ebert’s response to the piece.

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man is an observational interview piece based on Chris Jones spending two days with Mr. Ebert and the people close to him.  The point of Mr. Jones’s interview was to show people what Mr. Ebert has been doing in the four years since a sudden medical emergency robbed Mr. Ebert of his ability to speak.  Jones starts out giving us a view of Mr. Ebert as we know him: sitting in a movie theater making notes on a film he plans to review, and then he slowly unwinds the last four years so that we readers can understand how Mr. Ebert has become a man with no lower jaw, no ability to speak, fed from a GI-tube but still, essentially, the man people can recall clearly when they know the name Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert’s response is a short blog entry, commenting on Mr. Jones’s version of events and where he agrees and disagrees.

I’m recommending these pieces because Chris Jones shows a strong talent for writing a biographical piece with an emotional heart that does not become saccharine or over-wrought.  The hope he shows the reader is real and strong, and his imagery presents a multi-faceted man in Roger Ebert, not just the known film critic, and not just the man who is now without his voice.  Roger Ebert’s response I’m recommending because it’s a prime example of how to respond to someone else’s version of your own story (whether biographical or otherwise).  He is understanding of Jones’s view, honest about his reaction, but never, ever rude or dismissive of how Jones views the events.

You can see how to write a piece with sadness and happiness on an even keel by reading Jones’s piece, and you can learn how to handle feedback and critique by reading Ebert’s response.