Amazon’s Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2017 List
“This touching memoir of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks, by a photographer and writer with whom he fell in love near the end of his life, turns a story of death into a celebration.” The New Yorker
"A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation." Anne Lamott
Bill Hayes came to New York City 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"I don’t so much fear death as I do wasting life," he tells Hayes early onis 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.
Bill Hayes is the author of Insomniac City, The Anatomist, Five Quarts, Sleep Demons, and the forthcoming How New York Breaks Your Heart. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, and his writing has appeared in the New York Review of Books, BuzzFeed, and the Guardian, among other publications. His photographs have been featured in Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. He lives in New York. Visit his website at billhayes.com
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Hayes' book is full of beautiful stories and memories. Journal entries tie in with photographs. I felt I was given another side of Oliver Sacks, which I appreciated as I've been profoundly moved by Sacks' work.
But I was also given much from Hayes himself, who I had not been familiar with before. Insomniac City reads with the kind of intimacy you can only expect to get from long term friends. I am always full of appreciation when I find that quality in a book... We only get to think our own thoughts based on our own experiences, but sometimes we get glimpses of what it is to be in another's shoes. To feel with them what they felt... that is a gift.
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