Bill Hayes has unwrapped a New York under wraps during the lockdown. He is, in his photos and writings, the great poet of the everyday.” —Edmund White
“This is a love storyfor one particular man in the love affair that began as the pandemic did, for the city of New York and its people coping with an unanticipated catastrophe, for what words can do, for the light and darkness, shade and illumination of black-and-white street photography, for wandering and encountering and seeing, for being truly a citizen of the city and an inhabitant of the streets. Even at a moment when we were all supposed to withdraw from each other How We Live Now reaches out.” —Rebecca Solnit
“Images of empty streets and subways, when juxtaposed with Hayes's recollectionsmostly of romances and amusing encounters with other New Yorkersmake for a startlingly potent contrast and show how abruptly life shifted from the pre-coronavirus world to the 'new normal' of today. . . . Hayes's photos movingly capture a fraught and frightening moment in history.” —Publishers Weekly
“A touching volume . . . The photos serve as potent documentation of an unprecedented time.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An achingly timely and moving portrait.” —Booklist
"Since early in the year 2020, experts and pundits have been desperate to make sense of the grand and sweeping ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic is rapidly shifting the world. What acclaimed New York City author and photographer Bill Hayes brings to the conversation with How We Live Now however, is the same ground-level, impressionistic sensibility that made his memoir Insomniac City the tender and moving portrait it is, of living, loving and grieving. . . . Threading essays together with journal entries and fine-art photography, How We Live Now is a wise and understanding companion for the lonely nights of catastrophe." - Shelf Awareness
"Author and photographer Bill Hayes captures raw and beautiful moments of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. From deserted streets, shuttered restaurants, and other changes in this strange new world, he manages to find grace and gratitude. How We Live Now is a deep look at this unprecedented time we’re all living through together." - BookRiot
"Juxtaposed with eerily apocalyptic photos of empty streets and subway stations are other images and anecdotes that make Hayes such a needed chronicler of these uncertain times, because they reflect the resiliency and optimism that will help see us through it." - Amazon Book Review
"Eloquent and elegant . . . How We Live Now is delicate both in its prose and content. Hayes’ writing is crisp, and several chapters are poetic. . . . A thread throughout How We Live Now is about chances taken and regrets for things not done. This provides the book’s most poignant, salient theme. . . . Hayes’ book offers hope that we can experience such random, pleasurable moments of connection again soon." - Philadelphia Gay News
"Its short chapters, interspersed with interludes of photos, pack a wallop of poignancy, beauty, loveeven joy. How We Live Now is a lively, bracing read for our time." - Los Angeles & Washington BLADE
"In some ways, this new book could be titled, ‘How New York Puts the Pieces Back Together Again,’ as we see the wayswith numberless implicationsthat New Yorkers have adapted to the pandemic crisis. Certainly, Hayes documents enough of them to restore a sense of hopefulness about what is yet to come and the ways we must continue to alter our lives for the sake of survival. . . . [A] poignant reminder that no matter what else happens to us as a community, city or country, this is ‘how we live now.' " - Texas Public Radio’s “Book Public” podcast
"Mesmerizing . . . It’s a living, breathing diary of the city in one of its darkest times—and a celebration of New York’s grit, its people." - Afar
"A remarkable portrait of loss, mourning and surviving." - The Bay Area Reporter
"Images juxtaposed with haunting poetry and reflections serve to create a poignant portrait of life these last few months." - Paperback Paris
"Bill Hayes writes books that leave readers both awestruck and smarter." - Career Author
"The power of the book is the transition of a vibrant city like New York getting hit by the Pandemic. The photographs are stunning because it shows how fast and impactful was the first wave of the Covid-19 virus. . . . Hayes’s account is splendid." - lwos.LIFE
Hayes continues journaling about and photographing life in New York City, this time from quarantine.
In his latest, the author offers a slim, touching volume of jottings and images from his experience of the pandemic from the apartment he shared with his partner, the late Oliver Sacks. A recent New York Times article entitled “Publishers Snap Up Corona Books, From Case Studies to Plague Poetry” warned that “publishing books about an unfolding calamity, when the duration and outcome remain uncertain, carries obvious risks for authors and publishers.” With that in mind, Hayes’ sweet and searching record of life in March and April seems a bit like a work in progress. His chart “57 Days in the Pandemic in the United States of America” ends on May 7, with “1,292,623 confirmed & 76,928 dead.” Of course, since then, those numbers have risen precipitously—and promise to do so even more by the time the book is published. The photos serve as potent documentation of an unprecedented time: empty subway trains and stations at rush hour, for example, or portraits of masked store owners and delivery drivers, or solitary figures roaming the streets. The author includes pre-pandemic images for contrast: A colorful picture of a packed 8th Avenue in December, illuminated by brake lights and neon, contrasts sharply with a black-and-white image of the same corridor on April 6, its skyscraper canyons empty of all but shadows. The text is less dramatic though engaging and personable enough. The author’s firsthand intersections with the virus are limited to a couple of sick acquaintances and the effect of social distancing on a nascent love affair begun in December. A list poem recalling “The last time I…” did and saw any number of once-mundane things feels like an homage to Joe Brainard’s I Remember.
Excellent photos and unassuming journal entries preserve the emotions and sights of the early stages of a pandemic.