When Oliver Sacks was 12 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 reflection 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 and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, as well as with a group of patients who would define his life, it becomes clear that Sacks' earnest desire for engagement has occasioned unexpected encounters and travels - sending him through bars and alleys, over oceans, and across continents.
With unbridled honesty and humour, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions - bodybuilding, weightlifting, 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.
"His truly has been a life lived to the full – and beyond . . . it is the adventure of ideas he has undertaken that has bestowed on his life its remarkable originality." (Will Self, The Guardian)
"A compelling, surprising and sometimes astounding story of a richly lived life . . . fabulously surprising photos." (James McConnachie, The Sunday Times)
"[A] beautifully constructed and moving memoir . . . It is sad to think that Oliver Sacks's voice will soon be stilled, but his life and work are a gift to many and we can be grateful that he leaves such a legacy." (Andrew Scull, TLS)
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Shame about the voice/accent
Oliver Sack's life is real and fascinating. Despite his many years in the United States, he still speaks with an English accent. So, no offence to the reader himself, but the American accent is ALL wrong.
A reader with an English accent is imperative. I find it hard to understand who selected this voice/accent for this production.
Oliver Sacks is one of the world's most fascinating, not to mention engaging, polymaths.
Read it! Or simply petition the publisher to change the voice/accent. And when doing it, make sure the reader has a spattering of yiddish/hebrew words.
My Idol, smashed and rebuilt!
Amongst all the audiobooks I have listened to so far, this does not rate as one of the best. BUT, this is solely because of the narration. I picked it up in hardcover, though, and can honestly say it's one of my favourite reads of the year.
Oliver Sacks has been a hero of mine for decades. I have been so inspired by his writing in the past, his deep curiousity about the natural world and the human body, and his genuine love of people, despite what seemed like an awkward shyness. He was someone I could relate to. I always thought of him as a mild-mannered science geek in a grandfather's body. But I was amazed to learn that he'd been a bodybuilder as a young man, and had behaved quite recklessly in his youth. Shocked, actually. I don't want to give any spoilers. But at first I felt my idol being smashed, and then built up again as a more well-rounded human being, even more interesting than I'd previously thought!
The narrator had a very clear voice and spoke at a good speed, but he was the strangest choice to narrate this book! In my head I had to almost translate his young, loud-ish American voice into the soft, older, British-inflected voice I know and love. I am sure I would have not been irritated if the author himself had been American, except he also mispronounced some scientific terms and words in German and French. If you don't know how to pronounce it, find out how.
I was moved many times by the author's detailed accounts of the patients he came to know and care for deeply.
- Prunella P.