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: Scenes from the Pandemic, 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.
"It's strange," he writes, "to try to retrace one's steps, thinking about where you were at what point in this pandemic while still in the midst of this pandemic--and whether or not you'd ever been or put yourself at risk." Living in isolation, limiting non-essential excursions outside the home, the days blur into weeks with little to distinguish them. Yet, somehow, Hayes pulls salient moments from the ether and infuses them with a resilience that might seem precious were it not bolstered by his clear-eyed perspective, having mourned two long-term partnerships and worked in AIDS awareness and prevention. His hope rises from the quotidian, which persists in his exchanges with people he photographs on sidewalks and in parks, in conversations with taxi drivers and store clerks, in the chants of Black Lives Matter marching through the city and in navigating new love once again.
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. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness