I’ve made reference to this phenomenon several times, but there are artists and art I love so much I’ll love knockoff versions of their work too. As a Radiohead fan, I’ll listen to their non-union UK equivalents on the regular (looking your way, Coldplay and Travis). I’ve never met an iteration of Groundhog Day I didn’t love; guess which episode of Supernatural was my favorite. I really liked Brian Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman even if he owes Neil Gaiman royalties for that style. And with the passing of Oliver Sacks, I welcome his literary doppelgangers even more readily; welcome to the bookshelf Dr. O’Sullivan.
Like Sacks, O’Sullivan uses case studies to demonstrate the varied experiences of a malfunctioning brain; the subtitle of the book is “Detective Stories from the World of Neurology,” and it is apt; O’Sullivan explains how the unusual actions of her patients help her to diagnose exactly which part of the brain is damaged (or not, in one case the length of one patient’s convulsions lasting too long indicates that she isn’t actually having a seizure as one lasting longer than 5 minutes without any cognitive deficits isn’t possible). She writes with empathy and curiosity, and her subjects are all compelling, not just for their unusual brains but for their personalities (if one can make such a distinction).
Sure, she’s no Oliver, but she’s a damn good writer in her own right, and I’m looking forward to more of her books. I’m always ready for good, human, interesting science writing.