I first came across Oliver Sacks in a doctor's waiting room. There, lying on the table, was a copy of his first book, "Migraine". Since I suffer from bad headaches, I picked it up and started reading. Thoroughly intrigued by the elegantly written case studies it contained, I asked the doctor if I could borrow it, took it home, and finished it that evening. I then began to notice that Mr. Sacks periodically wrote articles for the New Yorker on strange neurological cases, and every time one came out I read it with delectation. So when I saw Mr. Sack's book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" at my local bookstore I bought it immediately.
I was not let down. The book is a fascinating compendium of neurological case studies, classified into four parts: Losses, Excesses, Transports, The World of the Simple. Mr. Sacks takes us on a journey through a series of neurological disturbances with extreme effects. Initially, one reads them with appalled fascination, with a feeling of being at the Circus staring at the Bearded Lady or the Elephant Man; I was forcefully reminded of Sylvia Plath's lines in "Lady Lazarus":
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand in foot --
The big strip tease.
But Oliver Sacks writes soberly and with great compassion about his cases, and drags us away from mere peanut-crunching voyeurism to finally contemplate what the cases tell us about what it means to be us.