Book review: Hallucinations, By Oliver Sacks
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 23 August 2013
Who knew that our favourite avuncular neurologist used to be the biggest dopehead in mid-1960s California?
Discreetly tucked into this beguiling package of case histories about every variety of hallucination - phantom limbs to ghosts and voices - is Sacks's report on his drug use while a young doctor.
The voracious experimenter even mixed his own cocktail, a "pharmacologic launchpad".
What brought him back to earth? Bad trips, yes, but also the discovery that sharing his clinical expertise in words delivered the best high.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
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