How New York Breaks Your Heart

Bill Hayes is a canny observer. With lyrical insight and magnetic enthusiasm, his books analyze the wonders of the commonplace: sleep (Sleep Demons), blood (Five Quarts) and bodies (The Anatomist). Love and resilience lie at the root of his recent memoir, Insomniac City, in which he leaves San Francisco for New York while grieving his partner's death. There he perfects a new craft in street photography, yielding the utterly remarkable selection of portraits and snapshots in How New York Breaks Your Heart.

Hayes wields the camera with the same curiosity and elegance as the pen. He transforms a simple sidewalk moment into fine art. Here is a fashionable woman in dark round sunglasses. There is a man reading a weathered paperback near a payphone. All display a candor that resonates within the frame. The simplicity of each shot belies Hayes's keen eye for character and setting. He captures his subjects in their distinct contexts within a city that boasts millions--a harmony of person and place. "Every time, it's astonishing."

Entwined with these photos is a poignant meditation on a new grief--the death of another love and the aching absence left. Yet: "there is New York--right there, right outside your window." An inspired companion to Insomniac City, this collection echoes its themes of love and resilience. In a vibrant city, Hayes focuses on a magnificent assortment of beautiful people, and observes the dynamic splendor of life itself. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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