You’d think – what would the case histories of a professor of neurology who records have to do with literature? Well, if ever you wanted to read the most fascinating yet the most empathetic chronicling of the human mind on the fringes of what we can “normal”, Oliver Sacks is the man to read.
Sacks himself suffers from prosopagnosia, an inability to recognise faces and places and perhaps we could speculate that it gave him a ringside seat. But I think not. The remarkable quality about his writing is that it is, in many ways, the perfect “beside manner” – the ability to objectively and clinically record the patient’s disease without letting his sympathy for the patient’s suffering come in the way.
Awakenings, Sacks’ book became a bestseller and the inspiration for Harold Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska. (It also became an Oscar winning film starring Robert De Niro 7 Robin Williams, but in my opinion, not a patch on the book.) Many other books followed including The Man who Mistook His Wfe For A Hat and most recently, Musicophilia: Tales of Music, the Brain and The Mind’s Eye (2010).