The eminent neurologist is also a fern lover, and this book is his record of a ten-day "fern foray" in southern Mexico. It is light and fast-moving, unburdened by library research but filled with erudition. Some of his fellow-foragers are professional pteridologists; others are amateurs, and there is a certain romance in the sight of smitten fern hunters crawling through the Mexican dust exclaiming in Latin. Among the botanical and anthropological observations, one catches glimpses of Sacks's inner life: his preoccupation with dualities, his nearly Victorian sense of modesty, his fascination with the world around him. He could be speaking of himself when he comments on a colleague peering through a hand lens at a small mountain flower: "Is it the artist or the scientist in him which is aroused by the Lobelia? Both, clearly, and they are utterly fused."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Sacks is--besides a neurologist and a splendid stylist with a shelf of marvelous books to his credit, most recently Uncle Tungsten [BKL S 1 01]--a ferner. That is to say, not that he is an Englishman living in New York, but that he is an amateur pteridologist, one whose hobby is appreciating the ancient class of plants called ferns (and "the so-called fern allies"--clubmosses, horsetails, spike mosses, and whisk ferns--"my own preference," he says). In 1999, that avocation led him to spend 10 days in Oaxaca, Mexico, with other members of the American Fern Society, to whose greater pteridological erudition he modestly defers. He kept a diary, the basis for this book. Fortunately for most readers, he doesn't just describe the rare fern species he gets to see. He notes the exotic birds that two of his companions find as thrilling as the ferns; he admits, however, that he never saw any avians smaller than hawks and vultures, for he hasn't developed a birder's eyes. He lovingly relays what the group's excellent guide imparted of Oaxaca's history, its indigenes, the Zapotecs, and their ancient culture; he rhapsodizes over ruins and the technological and intellectual powers they bespeak; and he admires the people, the many exotic foods, the vistas, and the age-old industries of the towns he visits--all of this while his fellow travelers mostly keep on ferning. He says he wants to go back. Take us along, Dr. Sacks--please! Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If I remember rightly, this was the first book I read by Oliver Sacks, other than a few brief selections.
It's essentially different from his other books. Read more
Just gorgeous how he looks at everything around him. You can learn so much and it is entertaining as wellPublished 3 months ago by Karin Lorenz
This book should be mandatory reading for freshmen in high school. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. (And it doesn't have to be your job!) Love what you do. Admire folks with passion. Read morePublished 3 months ago by sav w.
I really enjoyed this book about a journey with it's lightness of touch and broadness of scope. I had many insights and understandings.Published 5 months ago by Annette Leroux
Filled with information that will be obscure but fascinating for the common reader, this natural history commentary (and travelogue) about plants (chiefly ferns), incidental facts... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Char
A little above my head 'fern-wise' but worth it none-the-less for the view of Oaxaca thru his eyes. Enjoyable read.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed this little journal of Oaxaca through his eyes, having just been there myself. My disappointment was that it was only a week long.Published 17 months ago by Maddalena
Quick read opening on to a part of natural history not yet explored by a master story teller who captured the remoteness of the locale.Published 23 months ago by joe rutledge