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Running from your memories

Every couple of years I stumble upon a film that transcends its traditional entertainment purposes and goes for something more divine, ambitious and philosophical. When a film like this comes along, it reassures me that film is indeed the greatest art form of our time. Movies that had that awe-inspiring effect on me include: "Last Year At Marienbad", "The Exterminating Angel", "Persona", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Dark City", "Enter the Void", "The Thin Red Line", "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Synecdoche, New York". I like to call them life-changers.

Roger Ebert

The storyteller and the stallion

Bill Nack is a born story-teller. The author of the biography Secretariat has enveloped me time and again in the fascination of his tales. That process began nearly 50 years ago at the University of Illinois, when we were both working on The Daily Illini. I was the editor, he was the sports editor, and then the following year he was the editor. He was also a natural writer -- and, perhaps more significantly, a natural reader. His taste was persuasive.

He approached literature like a gourmet. He relished it, savored it, inhaled it, and after memorizing it rolled it on his tongue and spoke it aloud. It was Nack who already knew in the early 1960s, when he was a very young man, that Nabokov was perhaps the supreme stylist of modern novelists. He recited to me from Lolita, and from Speak, Memory and Pnin. I was spellbound.