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My friend, the doctor

Oliver Sacks's bizarre neuro-histories have made him one of the world's most celebrated doctor-writers. But what is he like as a doctor—in the ward, on the street, making a house call?

By Paul Theroux   February 1999

Oliver Sacks was sipping tea, juggling a cookie, his knees together, his fumbling hands making him seem unsure and a bit hunted, like Edward Lear—the same Socratic beard, the same gaze, twinkling with myopia. Oliver also looked lost, like a big, befuddled and bearded boy.

His bumbling is not an act. He really is near-sighted and cack-handed. At the cash register in a coffee shop, he fiddles helplessly, his thick fingers futile and unresponsive in his purse. He constantly loses things. He is hesitant and forgetful; in his dreamiest and perhaps…

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