‘A beautiful memoir in which Oliver Sacks comes wonderfully to life … Exquisitely wrought, heartrending and joyous’ Joyce Carol Oates
Bill Hayes came to New York in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.
And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes’s distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.
A loving tribute to Sacks and to New York ... Read just 50 pages, and you'll see easily enough how Hayes is Sacks's logical complement. Though possessed of different temperaments, both are alive to difference, variety, the possibilities of our rangy humanity; both are avid chroniclers of our species -- Jennifer Senior * New York Times * A beautiful memoir in which Oliver Sacks comes wonderfully to life ... Exquisitely wrought, heartrending and joyous -- Joyce Carol Oates Like New York, the city he celebrates so poignantly in this book, Bill Hayes mixes 'memory with desire' to create a heartbreakingly gorgeous story of love, loss, and renewal -- Azar Nafisi, author of READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN Remarkably poignant. Readers will find themselves wishing the two men had more time, but as Hayes makes clear, they wasted none of the time they had * Publishers Weekly * Written in heightened states of feeling that infuse every detail with meaning and transient beauty * Shelf Awareness * A unique and exuberant celebration of life and love * Kirkus Reviews * Bill Hayes has an unusual set of skills ... He is part science writer, part memoirist, part culture explainer * The New York Times * Like Patti Smith's haunting M Train, Hayes' book weaves seemingly disparate threads of memory into a kind of sanctuary - a secret place where one can shake off the treasured relics of past lives and prepare to be reborn anew * San Francisco Chronicle * Hayes captures both the frenetic, exhilarating pace of New York City as well as the whimsy, fun and romance of the years he spent with Sacks * New York Post * Insomniac City is resoundingly about life - about being wide awake to possibility, to the beauty of every fleeting moment. * Oprah.com * Buy a box of tissues and pray for snow: This is the perfect weekend February read, and will have you alternately bawling and giddily clapping your hands for the lovers that may not have had the time they deserved, but certainly made the best with the time that they had * Newsweek, 'The Best New Book Releases' * As eloquent in its silences and visuals as it is in its telling of the secrets of the heart. . . . The brilliance of Insomniac City is that almost Tolstoy-an directness and concretion of observation, both down-to-earth and downright visionary * Bay Area Reporter * Poetic and profound ... What emerges from this dual love letter is a lyrical reminder that happiness and heartache are inseparably entwined ... Insomniac City is an ineffably splendid read in its entirety, a mighty packet of pure aliveness. * Brainpickings * This beguiling brew of fascinating scientific facts and illuminating, poignant anecdotes makes Five Quarts something like blood itself: vital and pulsing with energy * Entertainment Weekly * That life permeates every page of Insomniac City, a dual love story of a powerful relationship that will shortly end but, also, of a city that is constantly reinventing itself * Counterpunch *
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