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Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and me by Bill Hayes []



Writer and photographer Bill Hayes has written a moving memoir that is equally a love letter to New York City and an affectionate portrait of his partner, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks. Through vignettes and diary entries we see the city and the people in it as Hayes does and his enthusiasm and affection are infectious. It’s a particular treat to see Sacks through Hayes’s eyes: here he is revealed, yes, as a brilliant scientist and writer and as a quirky genius with eccentric habits, but, more importantly, as the brilliant scientist and quirky genius whom Hayes adores and who adores Hayes in turn. As for the city, Hayes has a remarkable ability to meet, befriend, and like the people around him, and many of the passages that are not about Hayes and Sacks are about Hayes and the folks he meets: shop owners, skateboarders, dancers, artists, many of whom he meets through his photography. The photographs in the book, even when it is not clear how they relate to the text, further enhance the experience of, again, seeing through Hayes’s eyes.

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