Friday, 1 May 2015

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

A Life
by Oliver Sacks

Hardcover, 416 pages

I love Oliver Sacks. Have since a teenager when I "borrowed" my mother's copy of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. She was an excellent source of books and - then, as well as now - there was nothing I wanted to do more than curl up with a good book. (Occasionally I was encouraged to go outside, but nothing has ever replaced reading as my first and foremost love.)

Sacks is a neurologist and has written some amazing, inviting books on the wonders of the brain and how small changes to it can deeply affect people's lives. He does so in a conversational tale-style that is perfect for the curious but not professional. Layman's terms. Somehow he manages to portray his awe, respect, fondness and curiosity for his subjects in a way that is infectious. 

On the Move is an autobiography. Vignettes into a fascinating life of a man who became a writer first, and a neurologist by choice. One thinks he would have written just as fascinatingly about marine biology, or travel. Or anything else he set his passions to. I love him even more after reading this book. He holds nothing back.

He has a unique vision of people, himself and the world in general. And it is wonderful. 

From the Back Flap:

An impassioned, tender, and joyous memoir by the author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life.

With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions--weight lifting and swimming--also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists--Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick--who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer--and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks is a practicing physician and the author of twelve books, including The Mind’s Eye, Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine.