The untold story of Dr. Oliver Sacks, his own greatest patient
Lawrence Weschler first met Dr. Oliver Sacks in the early 1980s, when he set out to profile the neurologist for The New Yorker. At that time, Sacks had just published Awakenings, an account of his long-dormant patients’ miraculous but troubling return to life in a Bronx hospital ward. But the book was not an immediate success, and the rumpled clinician was immersed in a deep writer’s block as he struggled to complete his next book, A Leg to Stand On. Over the next several years, the two men became close friends, and Sacks duly appointed Weschler as his official biographer. It was the start of the joint voyage of intellectual discovery that is chronicled in And How Are You, Dr. Sacks?
In this book, Weschler sets Sacks’s brilliant table talk and extravagant personality in vivid relief, casting himself as a beanpole Sancho to Sacks’s capacious Quixote. We see Sacks rowing and ranting and caring deeply; composing the essays that would form The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat; recalling his turbulent drug-fueled younger days; helping his patients and exhausting his friends; and waging intellectual war against a medical and scientific establishment that fails to appreciate his greatest concern: the spontaneous vitality of the human soul. And all the time he is pouring out a stream of glorious, ribald, hilarious, and often profound conversation that establishes him as one of the great talkers of the age. Here is the definitive portrait of Sacks as our preeminent romantic scientist, a self-described “clinical ontologist” whose entire practice revolved around two questions he asked his patients: How are you? How do you be?
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Lawrence Weschler is the director emeritus of the New York Institute of the Humanities, artistic director emeritus of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and the author of numerous books, including Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder and Everything That Rises.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a MARVELOUS paean/biography to a truly amazing man whose larger-than-life life was even more intriguing than I realized... Weschler has written a lovely tribute to a pioneer that recognizes not only Sacks' brilliance but also his humanity and manages to pay homage to - and reveals the warts associated with - both. The writing is clear and yet still descriptive, walking the line between too much and not enough information with a delicate touch that feels respectful yet still never pulls punches. There is a lot of material here, and the read takes time - but it's time well spent. My review copy was provided obligation-free by the publisher via NetGalley.
I have read only two of Oliver Sacks's books, but already I was very moved by how incredible this man was. Reading Lawrence Weschler's book further cemented that opinion. Weschler writes from the authority of having befriended Dr. Sacks for 30 years and offers up funny stories. It is a long read, one that tempted me to skim through particularly tedious passages, but it is worthwhile.