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 bestselling author of Gratitude and Musicophilia, a collection of essays that displays Oliver Sacks's passionate engagement with the most compelling ideas of human endeavor: evolution, creativity, memory, time, consciousness, and experience.
Oliver Sacks, scientist and storyteller, is beloved by readers for the extraordinary neurological case histories (Awakenings, An Anthropologist on Mars) in which he explored many now-familiar disorders — autism, Tourette syndrome, face blindness. He was also a memoirist who wrote with honesty and humor about the remarkable experiences that shaped him (Uncle Tungsten, On the Move, Gratitude). In the pieces that comprise The River of Consciousness (many first published in The New York Review of Books, among other places), Dr. Sacks takes on evolution, botany, chemistry, medicine, neuroscience, and the arts, and calls upon his great scientific and creative heroes — above all, Darwin, Freud, and William James. For Sacks, these thinkers were constant companions from an early age. The questions they explored — the meaning of evolution, the roots of creativity, and the nature of consciousness — ie at the heart of science and of this book. The River of Consciousness demonstrates Sacks's unparalleled ability to make unexpected connections, his sheer joy in knowledge, and his unceasing, timeless endeavor to understand what makes us human.
“Charming and informative….What really unifies The River of Consciousness is the unique combination of intellectual rigor and childlike amazement, of bookishness and warmth, which characterizes all of Sacks’s writing. Which other writer who employs footnotes so liberally also so often inspires laughter and tears?” The Boston Globe
“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
“The warm genius of Oliver Sacks comes alive as he tackles everything from memory to Freud’s little-known contributions to neurology and Darwin’s love of flowers to the nature of creativity….Sacks brings the friendly curiosity for which he is so beloved to this ultimate testing ground of character, emerging once more as the brilliant, lovable human he was.” Maria Popova, Brainpickings
“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
“Reading a book published after its authors death, especially if he is as prodigiously alive on every page as Oliver Sacks, as curious, avid and thrillingly fluent, brings both the joy of hearing from him again, and the regret of knowing it will likely be the last time…[The] combination of wonder, passion and gratitude never seemed to flag in Sacks’s life; everything he wrote was lit with it. But it was his openness to new ideas and experiences, and his vision of change as the most human of biological processes, that synthesized all of his work.” Nicole Krauss, The New York Times Book Review
“Oliver Sacks knew how much his readers would miss him, and he outlined these ten essays before he left us. Indeed, blessed are we who mourn.... The River of Consciousness is the precious voice of Oliver Sacks come back to us, to do what all great seers do: lead us to places that we could never have found on our own.” Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Sacks spent more than fifty years working as a neurologist and writing books about the neurological predicaments and conditions of his patients, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, and Hallucinations. 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 & Sciences, and the Royal College of Physicians. His memoir On the Move was published shortly before his death in August 2015.