Saturday’s Book: Paying my Respects to the Late Oliver Sacks

He gave us a window to look through. (Naomi's Photos)
He gave us a window to look through. (Naomi’s Photos)

I know such posts usually start with the line “I first encountered a book by Oliver Sacks in….” but I would rather begin with the last thing I read by the famous neurologist-author, written shortly before his death.

It’s a wonderful and moving short piece in The New Yorker Magazine called “Filter Fish”., Sacks shares his “romance” with Gefilte Fish, beginning when he was very young, and ending as a sick old man. In between there was an African-American housekeeper who absolutely excelled at the art of Gefilte-Fish making, but understood (and stuck to it!) that the name of the dish was “Filter Fish”!

When Sack’s book about deafness “Seeing Voices” came out, I was given it twice! I was pretty young in those days and found it difficult reading. Not the top part of the page, but dealing with the huge amount of footnotes on every page! Sometimes there were more footnotes than text on a page.

For years I was afraid to read anything else by Sacks, until I started reading The New Yorker Magazine regularly. Then I began avidly reading each of his pieces. I believe I read his book about Music as well, though my memory is a bit foggy on that one.

There was always a bit of disappointment that he couldn’t cure any of the cases I read about it. But his curiosity about everything and his article writings (without the footnotes!) were contagious and I always ended each piece in awe of the intricacies of the human body and brain.

It is a gift to be curious and he shared that with us.

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