This collection is one of two books Sacks was working on when he passed away, and with probing essays on time, memory, creativity, and consciousness, it’s a fitting send-off. As usual, his inquiries reveal a dedication to intellectual rigor matched by an extraordinary generosity of spirit. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the best-selling author of Gratitude, On the Move, and Musicophilia, a collection of essays that displays Oliver Sacks’s passionate engagement with the most compelling and seminal ideas of human endeavor: evolution, creativity, memory, time, consciousness, and experience.
Oliver Sacks, a scientist and a storyteller, is beloved by readers for the extraordinary neurological case histories (Awakenings, An Anthropologist on Mars) in which he introduced and explored many now familiar disorders – autism, Tourette’s syndrome, face blindness, savant syndrome. He was also a memoirist who wrote with honesty and humor about the remarkable and strange encounters and experiences that shaped him (Uncle Tungsten, On the Move, Gratitude). Sacks, an Oxford-educated polymath, had a deep familiarity not only with literature and medicine but with botany, animal anatomy, chemistry, the history of science, philosophy, and psychology. The River of Consciousness is one of two books Sacks was working on up to his death, and it reveals his ability to make unexpected connections, his sheer joy in knowledge, and his unceasing, timeless project to understand what makes us human.
"Sacks continues in this latest collection to focus on questions over answers; the result is a work that leaves plenty of room for possibility beyond what might be immediately observed…. Intellectually, Sacks is, at heart, a philosopher. But he is a philosopher looking not for answers but for increasingly grander questions. He asked a multitude of them throughout his 82 years, but 'what is a mind?' might be his biggest." New York Magazine
"Compelling….The experience of reading the essays that make up The River of Consciousness is very much like peering into an ever-changing stream. Pebbles shift as the water courses by, revealing unexpected facets below….By bringing these quirky, personal and curious essays together, Sacks invites readers into his mind where they can experience the world from his unusually insightful perspective." Science News Magazine
"The reader is in thrall to Sacks' ability to braid wide reading, research and experience with his neurology patients to reach original and subtle conclusions….Sacks is the expression of…mental agility, a mind at play in the world." Chicago Tribune
"Reveals Sacks as a gleeful polymath and an inveterate seeker of meaning in the mold of Darwin and his other scientific heroes Sigmund Freud and William James….As this volume reminds us, in losing Sacks we lost a gifted and generous storyteller." Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London and was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford. He completed his medical training at San Francisco’s Mount Zion Hospital and at UCLA before moving to New York. Familiar to the readers of The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, Dr. Sacks spent more than fifty years working as a neurologist and wrote many books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, and Hallucinations, about the strange neurological predicaments and conditions of his patients. The New York Times referred to him as "the poet laureate of medicine," and over the years he received many awards, including honors from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal College of Physicians. His memoir On the Move was published shortly before his death in August 2015.