Dr. Sacks has greatly enjoyed reading your letters, emails, and guestbook comments. Your stories, appreciations, memories (to say nothing of afghans, salmon, gefilte fish, artworks, photographs, and music) are what keep us all uplifted in the midst of his battle with cancer. We cannot thank you enough for this outpouring of support and affection. It is a daily reminder to the good doctor of his long, adventurous life, the high points of which have always been his communion and conversation with his readers and the privilege of seeing and helping his patients.
As he described in his recent New York Times piece, “My Periodic Table,” he recently visited some lemur friends in North Carolina, thanks to the extraordinary Duke University Lemur Center and its director, Anne Yoder. Below is a photo of Dr. Sacks with his new friend, Pia, a Coquerel’s sifaka.
We are proud to announce the establishment of the Oliver Sacks Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the public understanding of the human brain and mind through the power of narrative nonfiction and case histories, and to making the world a better place for those with neurological or psychiatric challenges. More info coming soon!
Finally, keep an eye out for Dr. Sacks’s newest article, “Sabbath,” now online at the New York Times and in the upcoming Sunday Times print edition.
Don’t miss this: Steve Silberman previews his book on the hidden history of autism, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, in this riveting TED talk, just released.
Since June is independent bookseller month (we’re just kidding–every month is indie month!), we tip our hats to indies around the world (including our much-loved landmark neighborhood store, Three Lives in New York City).
But we have to hand it to Unity Books in Wellington, New Zealand. They asked their shop plumber to find a BMW for their display of On the Move, and came up with this vintage R75. Thank you, Tilly Lloyd and wonderful staff!
(Photo by Matt Bialostocki)
Finally, we are happy to welcome the first foreign translation of On the Move, from Rowohlt Verlag in Germany, who have published all of Dr. Sacks’s books over the years. Danke sehr, Rowohlt friends!
Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for her thoughtful coverage of the book, including some vintage photos by the good doctor during his California days. She calls the book “a sublime memoir of love, lunacy, and a life well lived.” While Dr. Sacks is not doing any public events or interviews promoting the new book, he did sit down in front of the camera with filmmaker Ric Burns several months ago, discussing everything from his approach to writing to his early years at Oxford and even his experiences with amphetamines. Some short excerpts of those interviews are available on our YouTube channel, and a full-length documentary is in the works.
Dr. Sacks was recently featured in Radiolab Live’s event “Tell-Tale Hearts.” He has been a member of the Radiolab family since the beginning, and Jad and Robert did a lovely tribute to him. You can hear the whole episode here (or jump to 31:00 for the segment on OS).
Dr. Sacks is busily writing and enjoying life. Last month he published articles about the autonomic nervous system in the New York Review of Books; about Spalding Gray and brain injury in the New Yorker; and about the a cleaner world in the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town.Yes, this man can write anywhere, even on the roof of someone else’s car!
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All of the above!
These stories and more in On the Move–on sale now–including 32 pages of photos. Please tell your friends!
The first advance copy of Dr. Sacks’s new book, On the Move, has just arrived from the printer!
Here is one happy author:
We thank you all deeply for the wonderful, moving cards and letters and emails which have poured in since Dr. Sacks wrote about his cancer diagnosis in the New York Times. In the current New York Review of Books, he writes about the aftermath of his cancer treatments and the notion of “feeling good” or “feeling ill.” Right now, we are pleased to report, he is feeling very good, and up to his usual swimming and writing and ferning.
But because Dr. Sacks will not be doing any book signings or interviews for the new book, we are relying entirely on YOU to help spread the word. On the Move is available for pre-order now, and will be officially published in the US, Canada, and the UK on April 28. Here is the UK cover:
PS: Special thanks to our web gurus at KPF Digital and Sheep in Disguise for this beautiful new look for our website. Visit our guestbook to find out what people are saying about Dr. Sacks, or to write to him yourself.
Yes, this is how Oliver Sacks rolled in 1961 (in Greenwich Village on his BMW).
When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction and then in New York, where he discovered a long forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life.
With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions — weightlifting and swimming—also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists—Thom Gunn, A.R. Luria, W.H. Auden, Gerald Edelman, and Francis Crick among them— who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer — and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be completely unable to communicate with others … for your entire life? This four-minute film is a must-see.
In Seeing Voices, Dr. Sacks writes about the many aspects of deaf culture and history, and the importance of language and communication for everyone.
Deaf people, especially those born deaf, have long been marginalized–at one time they were considered mentally inferior, unfit for marriage and parenthood (and even incapable of entering the “kingdom of heaven” because they couldn’t “hear” the voice of God). Even today they are often discouraged from communicating in their own, visual, sign languages, which are linguistically just as complex and expressive as any spoken language.
In the early 19th century, two very different men–Laurent Clerc, a (deaf) Frenchman and Thomas Gallaudet, a (hearing) American—bridged the formidable linguistic gap between them to bring sign language and deaf education to the United States. By the time of the Civil War, the campaign for deaf education had become the first civil rights movement in the U.S., and a model for the women’s suffrage and later movements.
Movements of the Soul is a riveting and inspirational new play about the friendship between Clerc and Gallaudet and their extraordinary enterprise. A groundbreaking piece of theatre, it is fully accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences, performed in ASL, English and French. The cast and crew include a talented company of both deaf and hearing artists including actors Lewis Merkin (“Spin City”, Broadway: Children of a Lesser God, West End: Equus), Frank Dattolo (National Theatre of the Deaf, Principal of Lexington School for the Deaf) , Alexandria Wailes (Broadway: Big River), and Jordan Lage (Broadway: Race, Speed the Plow, Inherit the Wind).
Dr. Sacks has joined the project as an Honorary Board Member, but we need your help not only to bring this play to an off-Broadway stage next spring but also to produce a documentary film which can reach even more people. Please help us spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to your friends.
And please check our fundraiser page at Indigogo and make a contribution, large or small. Thank you!
In early June, Dr. Sacks went to a 100th birthday party for his cousin Marjorie Kenyon in Jerusalem. She reminisced about his antics as a “young whippersnapper,” and about her own days as a pediatrician in England.
Though he has mainly been working on his autobiography this year, Dr. Sacks has also written two short articles. One is a reminiscence of libraries he has loved, which you can read in the current issue of Threepenny Review.
The other is a piece about the ginkgo tree and its unusual leaves, which will appear in next week’s New Yorker magazine, on newsstands November 17.
In other news, the documentary film Alive Inside, which features Dr. Sacks, is about the incredible power of music to help people with dementia and other neurological problems. It’s on a couple of shortlists for an Academy Award nomination, and it won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year. Bravo!
Alive Inside features Connie Tomaino, who was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Association Music Therapy Association for her pioneering work at the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Connie is Dr. Sacks’s chief advisor on music therapy, and he dedicated Musicophilia to her.
Congratulations, Connie, and Happy Birthday, Marjorie!
We have a couple of great websites to recommend. Lucy Winer’s award-winning documentary Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution is, Dr. Sacks says, “a brave, compelling look at the life of a state mental hospital and those whose lives it has touched. . . . A brilliant exploration of a difficult and complex issue.”
We also invite you to explore a new website called The Hot Stove Project, created by Dr. Lois Oppenheim and Dr. Alice Maher. Dedicated to encouraging discussion about different mental conditions from varied perspectives, the project incorporates a wide range of resources, including a short documentary, “How to Touch a Hot Stove: Thought and Behavioral Differences in a Society of Norms.”
The film, narrated by John Turturro, features interviews with Temple Grandin, Elyn Saks, Joanne Greenberg, Eric Kandel, Charles Marmar, Oliver Sacks, and Alice Flaherty, among others. (You can also see an extended version of Dr. Sacks’s interview here.)
If you like either of these, please share! If you know of a school, hospital or organization that would be interested in hosting a screening and discussion please email Hot Stove at email@example.com or Kings Park at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we can make a difference.
PS: If you missed Dr. Sacks’s recent essay “The Mental Life of Plants and Worms, Among Others,” subscribers can find it in the New York Review of Books, April 24 issue or online.
If you’ve read Uncle Tungsten, Dr. Sacks’s memoir of his boyhood, you may remember that his grandparents Marcus and Chaya Landau, who raised eighteen children at the turn of the twentieth century, were firm advocates for the equality of men and women, especially when it came to education. While many of their nine sons went into chemistry, physics, or metallurgy, the sisters were drawn to teaching and medicine. Muriel Elsie Landau, Dr. Sacks’s mother, was one of the first women surgeons in England, and four of her sisters founded or ran schools.
The Landau family: Annie is standing second from the right; Elsie second from the left.
One of these remarkable women, Annie Landau, left the comforts of London for Palestine in 1899. She knew no one in this new country, but was determined to help provide a wide-ranging education for the Anglo-Jewish girls in Jerusalem, at a time when most of them were impoverished and illiterate, denied education and pushed into teenage marriage or prostitution. They could not have found a better champion than Annie Landau, whose passion for women’s education overcame all sorts of cultural and political obstacles. Her parties for the city’s elite were legendary, and the school which she directed for forty-five years left a lasting legacy on the development of Jerusalem as a thriving modern culture.
Historian Laura S. Schor has just published The Best School in Jerusalem: Annie Landau’s School for Girls, 1900-1960. It paints a vivid picture of life in Jerusalem in these formative years, and brings to life a forgotten chapter of the history of education and of women.
Dr. Sacks has so enjoyed the book that he has sent out dozens of copies to his cousins (eighteen children lead to a lot of cousins!). We hope you enjoy it, too.
In quite a different vein, Dr. Sacks has just completed an article about the origins of mind in invertebrates (like earthworms, jellyfish, and his favorite cephalopods). Bones, it seems, are not a prerequisite for mental life. Look for his essay in an upcoming issue of the New York Review of Books. (For updates, check our Twitter or Facebook pages.)