Nurse Wolf is Manhattan's Queen of Pain -- she gives pleasure by inflicting it, gains pleasure from causing it. The neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks is her opposite, a diffuser of pain, a comforter.
Yet, for all their apparent differences, the dominatrix and the doctor operate in a similar territory: both are intensely involved with their subjects, who have become friends and allies; both have an almost shamanistic way of dealing with unusual personalities; both regard such people as 'differently abled' -- insightful and misunderstood.
In Nurse Wolf and Dr. Sacks, Paul Theroux offers two remarkable portraits. His book reveals the 'other side' of New York.