On the Move: A Life (Hardcover)
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 is the author of twelve previous books, including The Mind’s Eye, Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired both the Oscar-nominated film and a play by Harold Pinter). The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and he is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine.
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Dr. Sacks writes not only with a doctor’s understanding of medicine and science but also with a Chekhovian sympathy for his patients and a metaphysical appreciation of their emotional quandaries....That writing, which Dr. Sacks says gives him a pleasure ‘unlike any other,’ has also been a gift to his readers—of erudition, sympathy and an abiding understanding of the joys, trials and consolations of the human condition.”
Lauren Slater, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The summation of a life lived with so much breadth and depth that it serves as a primer for how to navigate human existence with humor, humility, passion, speed, intelligence, and ongoing grace — the tale tying together all the stories Sacks has published in his lifetime…. In this book, Sacks reveals himself as a writer, laying bare the process, which was sometimes exquisitely painful and sometimes straightforward; it’s a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into how one of this country’s most beloved physicians and authors actually plies his craft....Sacks is so vulnerable, so naked, so exposed in the telling of his life that the reader wants to fall in love with him, because what else can you do when a person such as Sacks gives you the gift of such honesty?…. On the Move can be read in many different ways…. In the end, though, what the reader walks away with, or rather, what this reader walked away with, was a field guide on how to live an excellent life, moment by moment, mile by mile, making each droplet count.”
Colin McGinn, Wall Street Journal
“This is a very striking book by a very striking man. It is honest, lucid, passionate, humorous, humane and human (also slightly Martian). The Oliver Sacks you thought you knew may surprise you with his back story…”
Carmela Ciuraru, San Francisco Chronicle
“No matter what he writes about — whether struggling to understand what his patients are going through, or describing his love of swimming or photography — Sacks always seems open to learning more. He appears keenly interested in everything and everyone he encounters. He’s a wonderful storyteller, a gift he says he inherited from his parents, both of whom were doctors. But as he proves again in his latest…book, it’s his keen attentiveness as a listener and observer, and his insatiable curiosity, that makes his work so powerful.”
Heller McAlpin, LA Times
“On the Move is filled with both wonder and wonderments….Sacks’ discursive, revealing memoir chronicles his surprising route to becoming the bard of brain disorders. Pit stops along the way include his biker days (in which he went by his middle name, Wolf), avid weightlifting, experimentation with psychotropic drugs leading to amphetamine addiction, numerous brushes with death, lifelong passion for long-distance swims, and so many carelessly lost manuscripts you can’t help but wonder about Freudian slips. The vivid self-portrait that emerges is of an immoderate risk taker with a brilliant ‘wildly associative mind,’ an enthusiast who regards ‘all neurology, everything as a sort of adventure.’ A teacher’s astute assessment best sums up Sacks’ nature: ‘Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.’ He has frequently pushed the limits.”
Suzanne Koven, Boston Globe
“Sacks’ empathy and intellectual curiosity, his delight in, as he calls it, ‘joining particulars with generalities’ and, especially, ‘narratives with neuroscience’ —have never been more evident than in his beautifully conceived new book, On The Move. This meta memoir, in which Sacks reconsiders aspects of his life and work that he’s written about in a dozen previous books, is remarkably candid and deeply affecting.”
Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“On the Move is entertaining and illuminating and sometimes shocking, and it’s given a deep tinge of poignancy by Sacks’ public announcement in February that he has terminal cancer. If On the Move is his effort, at age 81 and in the face of death, to record a life well lived, he has succeeded beautifully.”
Laura Miller, Salon
“On the Move is an enchanting window on just how much vitality you can pack into four-score years on this planet…"
Tyghe Trimble, Men’s Journal
“What you likely don’t know about Sacks is that he once held a weightlifting record in California, is a serious motorcycle enthusiast, and fell in love at 77. Such moments make On the Move a compelling read. The memoir offers a glimpse into one of the greatest minds of our time, made all the more special by the knowledge that it’s one of his last gifts to a devoted readership.”
Jennie Yabroff, Biographile
“You finish On the Move with a sense of wonder and admiration.”
Melissa Pierson, Daily Beast
“…an unforgettably passionate, joyous journey.”
Jeff Milo, Paste
“An ebullient telling of a remarkable life.”
Dan Cryer, Newsday
“Learning to come to terms with unique patients has given Oliver Sacks permission to come to terms with himself. And what a self this book reveals! A man animated by boundless curiosity, wide-ranging intelligence, gratitude for flawed humanity, perseverance despite setbacks…. Oliver Sacks can never be replaced. We’re lucky to have all the books, including On the Move. It’s intensely, beautifully, incandescently alive."
Alden Mudge, BookPage
“In these pages, Sacks is always on the move, leaping adroitly from one topic to the next. We are swept along by the velocity of his account of a long and eventful life.”