Review: On the Move: A Life

On the Move: A Life
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On the Move is a fitting title for this memoir by Oliver Sacks: the writing moves suddenly from one topic to another, like a butterfly just touching from plant to plant. It took me a good 50 pages to stop being annoyed with brevity of sections. Of course, the title also references Sacks’ motorcycle journeys, his many transatlantic crossings between his home of London and his work in New York and California, and his astonishing movement between the worlds of medicine, research science, residential patient care, and writing. There are several interesting themes that come up but are not deeply discussed: being a young gay man in 1950s England and then in late 50s and early 1960s San Francisco; growing up in a family of 5 doctors; several instances of completing a major piece of writing or photography and losing the only copy of a manuscript (in a missing suitcase, in a fire, lending it to a colleague who then died; misunderstandings with supervisors, lab partners, and research subjects that led to loss of position, etc. He is so smart and so creative – I think if you are a fan of his books this is an interesting read. If not, it might just be too disjointed, skimming over too many fascinating topics too quickly.

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