Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks - review by Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels

Beyond the Stink Bomb Stage

Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood


Picador 336pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

There are few writers more beguiling than Oliver Sacks, although I have known some people who found him just a little too beguiling, as if he were more of a magician or salesman than a mere searcher after and recorder of the truth. There is something in us – could it be envy? – that resists a man whose writing is brilliantly clever and at the same time immediately accessible.

In this book, Professor Sacks returns to his childhood, which seems to have been both very rich and a little peculiar (perhaps the two necessarily go together). For example, his mother, a surgeon, took him when he was fourteen to the Royal Free Hospital, where the Professor of Anatomy was

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