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Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales Hardcover – April 23, 2019
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"Magical . . . [Everything in Its Place] showcases the neurologist's infinitely curious mind."—People Magazine
“Extraordinarily touching—not lacking in his habitual energy and driven curiosity, but somehow vulnerable, even fragile . . . [He was] an unusual boy, one who had, as he puts it, an “overwhelming sense of Truth and Beauty” . . . and it becomes increasingly clear that Sacks was that boy to the very end of his days, engaging, eagerly and with a never-ending sense of wonder, not only with science but with its history and the people who made it . . . Our best chance for the future, we may feel, is that there may be others among us like this uncommon, passionate, and enlightened man . . .”—Simon Callow, The New York Review of Books
“Eclectic and satisfying . . . Informative and engaging . . . Sacks writes with his characteristic compassion and attention to detail. . . This final posthumous collection provides one last peek into the author’s generous, curious, and brilliant mind.”—Library Journal
“Sacks further secures his legacy with this most recent collection of his work . . . The Shakespeare of science writing might suffice, but Sacks ultimately defies comparison to bygone or even contemporary authors. As readers we can rejoice that, while cancer may have claimed his body, his voice continues to ring out.”—The Scientist
"Everything in Its Place is a wondrous read in its entirety, irradiating Sacks’s kaleidoscopic curiosity across subjects. . .”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“A fitting coda to an exemplary literary and medical career, displaying the essential humanity and spaciousness of mind that his readers have long come to expect . . . with a voice, breadth of curiosity and kinship with life all his own . . . passionate . . . [and] engrossing . . . [Sacks] will be keenly missed, not only for the elegance and potency of his writing, but for his critically important championing of science in an age of science denial . . . Warm, edifying, highly personal essays.”—The Charleston Post and Courier
“If you are not already familiar with the writing of Oliver Sacks, this volume is a lovely way to acquaint yourself with it . . . Sacks is a humanist author, one who has an amazing capacity to inspire awe and reawaken the reader to the beauty of the smallest and often most unforgotten, disenfranchised aspects of life on earth. Above all, his greatest strength is how he skillfully allows the non-specialist to deeply delve into the field of neurological study. He is an author with a sense of constant questioning and bewilderment at the complexity of human existence. His writing is beautifully crafted and profound.”—New York Journal of Books
“It’s not hard to see why Oliver Sacks captivated the world . . . Without waiting for the evidence to come in, you know that a better book of essays—one that is funnier and sneakier and more grave—will certainly not be published this year.”—The Saturday Paper
“A postscript to a brilliant career . . . full of curiosity and awe . . . Whether discussing botany or the intricacies of the brain, Sacks writes with the natural candor and wisdom of a great teacher. Everything in Its Place is his thoroughly illuminating last word. He will be missed.”—Shelf Awareness
“As polished and as intimately voiced—the author seems our bosom friend far more than an ‘authority’—as Sacks is at his best . . . each [chapter] is impossible to put down unfinished . . . Anglo-American literature has boasted an astonishing number of excellent writing physicians and scientists. Consider Oliver Sacks their dean.”—Booklist [starred]
“In this lovely collection of previously unpublished essays, the late, celebrated author and neurologist muses on his career, his youth, the mental health field and much more. . . Sacks’s gentle, ruminative voice is a salve when investigating difficult subject matter but there are plenty of lighter moments as well. . . [this] final collection is a treat for the chronically curious.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“A reminder of the breadth of his professional expertise and the depth of his personal passions . . . all the essays collected here are a fitting valedictory to Oliver Sacks’ fascinating life.”—BookPage
“[Oliver Sacks] never fails to captivate me even if they are far from my own passions . . . If you love fascinating tidbits, this book of uncollected or previously unpublished essays is for you . . .”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
About the Author
- Publisher : Knopf; First Edition (April 23, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451492897
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451492890
- Item Weight : 1.12 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.79 x 1.08 x 8.57 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #130,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The essays in this collection span the same range of diverse interests that marked out Sacks as one of the most eclectic thinkers and writers of his time. They are divided into three parts – the first part deals with childhood and family, the second deals with neuroscience and the kinds of fascinating case studies which made him famous, and the last contain miscellaneous thoughts about his interests and family.
In the first section you see him writing about a lifelong love of swimming – he bought a house midway through a swim once – childhood experiments with cuttlefish that led to an embarrassing incident with putrefied ocean life in a friend’s basement, another lifelong love of museums exemplified by visits to the great South Kensington museums of geology and natural history, a marvelous paean to the chemist-poet Humphrey Davy, and a somewhat bittersweet contemplation of libraries in which he laments the replacement of so many great paper books by impoverished online versions (curiously, although he mentions the great libraries at Oxford, he does not mention the great New York Public Library in which he must surely have spent countless hours).
In the second section he dwells with characteristic humanity and curiosity on patients with neurological challenges. In doing this he goes beyond simple descriptions of disorders like Alzheimer’s diseases and depression. He describes how Alzheimer’s, as gut wrenching as it is for both patients and in particular for their families, is increasingly seen as a reorganization of the brain rather than a simple degeneration where patients connect with areas of the brain which have been previously enveloped by layers of complexity. Under the right circumstances, Alzheimer’s patients can be every bit as alert and responsive to specific stimuli as anyone else. Another related essay talks about kuru, an infectious variant of Alzheimer’s. There are short musings on annoying but relatively curious problems like hiccups and various assorted tics. And an enlightening chapter on the history of mental asylums which shows far we have come in treating the mentally ill with dignity.
The third and last section speaks of many of Sacks’s personal loves; gardens, gefilte fish, the periodic table and the discovery of superheavy elements, a trip to Colorado Springs and a mesmerizing interaction through a glass panel with an orangutan. The final chapter which was published in the New Yorker recently is poignant and leaves one feeling sad. It laments the lack of human connection engendered by our obsession with devices, and Sacks talks about how depressed he feels when he sees everyone who was previously nodding, smiling and talking on the streets of New York lost in their devices and screens, seduced by pieces of fleeting information. Sacks is not a Luddite, but he does question the coming of technology that seems to sap us of our human and emotional connections.
I would say this last chapter would have been a pessimistic note to end on, if it hadn’t been for Sacks’s feelings about science as a saving grace for us, and a final note of hope that humanity will continue to endure: “As I face my own impending departure from the world, I have to believe this – that mankind and our planet will survive, that life will continue, and that this will not be our final hour.” Even as he bids us goodbye in this final essay collection, Sacks’s writings will continue to inform, stimulate and inspire as long as men and women read, listen to music, care for loved ones and revel in the excitement of science.
I’m not sure I would appreciate Mr Sack’s books on particular ailments, etc., but I find the stories in this book to come closer to satisfying my need to take more of his thoughts on-board.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 29, 2020
Now coming to the contents , all are his beautiful and many times poignant essays published elsewhere. Sacks himself had this arranged in his last days. Reading one at a time so I can keep reading it a while. Strong recommended.