3 of 5
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me
304 pages; Bloomsbury USA
A gifted photographer, Hayes was also the loving companion of the famously strange neurologist Oliver Sacks. Here, Hayes blends the story of their life together in New York with photographs of people he encountered on the city's busy streets. His openhearted curiosity leads to revealing conversations with strangers on subways, in bodegas, at the skate park. In journal entries, he finds delight in the most unlikely places. ("The streets are filled with garbage and dirty water. The air stinks. But there is a warm pinkish-gold glow on the streets from the setting sun. Gorgeousness. We are closer to the sun in New York, I think.") Hayes captures Sacks' quirky wistfulness too: "'Wouldn't it be nice if there were a planet where the sound of rain falling is like Bach?' he says." Toward the end, he movingly chronicles Sacks' death from cancer. But Insomniac City is resoundingly about life—about being wide awake to possibility, to the beauty of every fleeting moment.  
— Dawn Raffel