Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks is well-known for his books Awakenings (which was made into a feature film starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams), The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Hallucinations and several others. These books took the concept of medical case studies to new heights. Dr. Sacks dedicates a compassionate and scientific mind to his patients, and in the process, helps lay readers learn more about perception, the brain and the self.
Now Dr. Sacks is a patient himself. Still practicing at age 80, he is now facing terminal cancer and the conclusion of his life’s work. There is no better time to explore the achievements of this accomplished physician and writer.
On the Move, Dr. Sacks’ autobiography, traces his life in poetic, impassioned vignettes. While answering nearly every question one might have about the man–from his choice of medicine over lab work, to his high-flying physical accomplishments (as a young doctor he was a long-distance motorcyclist and bodybuilder), to his beliefs about the nature of consciousness–the book’s real strength is in its paragraphs and sentences, not its chapters. Each of these puts the reader quite vividly in Dr. Sacks’ shoes and challenges them to bring back new insights. Dr. Sacks writes very movingly about love but also about the other passions that have driven and filled his busy life.
I was glad to hear that Dr. Sacks has several more books ahead of him and I look forward to his return to his patients and medical subjects. However, the evocation of these most personal and individual experiences ensures that Oliver Sacks, the man, will live as long as Oliver Sacks, the doctor.