As a Reader of Fiction and an Occasional Watcher of Lifetime Movies I have been habituated to happy endings. But while some of these people improve, and some learn to cope, some just get (interestingly, fascinatingly) worse. You come unexpectedly to the end of a chapter, and the woman with aphasia has not not only not learned to read again, but is growing increasingly disoriented in her own apartment, alas. Whither my feel-goody narrative closure?
But feel-goodery is not Sacks’ object. He has a bizarrely dual-pronged approach that both humanizes and scienceizes his cases. Cozy ramble in a living room here, amiable and surprisingly comprehensible jargony ramble there (with footnotes!).
There is one insanely long, self-indulgent chapter where he talks about his own vision misadventure, and you sort of expect him to treat himself like any other case study, but he can’t resist telling you his every impression from that time (which he remembers because he is apparently a rampant diariest). Neurophysician, edit thyself.
Not my favorite Sacks, but a substandard Sacks is better than a poke in the mind’s eye (oh man). Eight caterpillars.
Requisite ass-covering: thanks to RandomHouse for the review copy.