On the Move: A Life
A New York Times Notable Book One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, BookPage, Slate, Men’s Journal When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. With unbridled honesty and
A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, BookPage, Slate, Men’s Journal
When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks writes about the passions that have driven his life—from motorcycles and weight lifting to neurology and poetry. 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—W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick—who have influenced his work. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer, a man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.
An Amazon Best Book of May 2015: Oliver Sacks’ On the Move is a disarming book. His honesty, energy, and clear restlessness illuminate each page, drawing the reader in to a life of great achievement in spite of some hurdles. The highest of those hurdles may have been his difficulty with romantic love. The origin of that difficulty can be traced to his mother’s severe reaction upon learning that he was gay: she called him “an abomination.” Sacks forgave his mother for that, even if he couldn’t shake her words. His solution appears to have been just to move on and keep moving—and the entire book is imbued with a sense of movement. This can be seen in his love of motorcycles and weight lifting, in his desire to travel, in his move from England to the United States, and even when he writes of his former addiction to amphetamines. Of course his mind was moving at all times as well, and in this book Sacks continues to write convincingly about the ways our minds make us human. Despite claiming shyness, Sacks amassed an impressive list of friends and acquaintances—from the poets Thom Gunn, Richard Selig, and W.H. Auden, to Francis Crick and Stephen Jay Gould, to Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. And there was always the writing. “I am a storyteller, for better and for worse,” he writes at the end of the book. When I read that line, I realized that I felt like he was sitting in the same room with me. — Chris Schluep