Long before Oliver Sacks became a disgruntled neurologist and best-selling writer, he was a small English boy fascinated by metals - also by chemical reactions (the louder the better), photography, cuttlefish, H.G. Wells, and the periodic table. In this endlessly charming and eloquent memoir, he chronicles his love affair with science and the magnificently odd and sometimes harrowing childhood in which that love affair unfolded. We meet Sacks' extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother (who introduces the 14 year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection) and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his 'Uncle Tungsten,' whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes - in his own home laboratory.