In­som­niac City by Bill Hayes, Blooms­bury.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS -

The ways of writer and neu­rol­o­gist Oliver Sacks were “not of our time”, writes au­thor and pho­tog­ra­pher Bill Hayes in this ten­der snap­shot of both a man and a city. Bill was 48 when, in 2009, griev­ing the loss of his part­ner, Steve, he left San Fran­cisco to “rein­vent him­self” in New York City. Fur­nish­ing his “tree house” apart­ment with a desk, chair and mat­tress, the laugh­ter-filled bar down­stairs did not help sleep­less­ness, but had “an ame­lio­ra­tive af­fect on bro­ken heart­ed­ness”. He gazed at the Em­pire State and Chrysler Build­ings “like an old mar­ried cou­ple… he in his boxy suit, she in her fil­i­greed skirt”. Oliver, 75, had never “come out” nor been in a re­la­tion­ship when he and Bill fell in love – both in­som­ni­acs, both lovers of words. Bill didn’t just fall in love with the “bril­liant, sweet, mod­est man… prone to out­bursts of boy­ish en­thu­si­asm”, he adored him. They swig wine, lis­ten to Bach and peo­ple-watch, de­scrib­ing how they walk. Life in the city that never sleeps ended for the gen­tle cou­ple when Oliver died in Au­gust 2015. But if ever there was a me­moir to cel­e­brate liv­ing, this is it.

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