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Amazon's Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2017 List A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks. "A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation."--Anne Lamott Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city's incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera. And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance--"I don't so much fear death as I do wasting life," he tells Hayes early on--is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes's distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.
A timely and challenging analysis of the modern city.
This book offers a multidisciplinary approach to the medina, the traditional walled Arab city of North Africa. The medina becomes a concrete case study for comparative explorations of general questions about the social use of urban space by opening up fields of research at the intersection of history, comparative cultural studies, architecture and anthropology. Essays by American, European and North African scholars demonstrate a variety of sources and theoretical approaches now being used in writing historical narratives framed within the city space. They shed light on recent studies by anthropologists regarding social praxis within the urban context, and analyze the urban experience of the medina and the casbah as they are represented in visual and material culture.
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We often think of sleep as mere stasis, a pause button we press at the end of each day. Yet sleep is full of untold mysteries—eluding us when we seek it too fervently, throwing us into surreal dream worlds when we don’t, sometimes even possessing our bodies so that they walk and talk without our conscious volition. Delving into the mysteries of his own sleep patterns, Bill Hayes marvels, “I have come to see that sleep itself tells a story.” An acclaimed journalist and memoirist—and partner of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks—Hayes has been plagued by insomnia his entire life. The science and mythology of sleep and sleeplessness form the backbone to Hayes’s narrative of his personal battles with sleep and how they colored his waking life, as he threads stories of fugitive sleep through memories of growing up in the closet, coming out to his Irish Catholic family, watching his friends fall ill during the early years of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, and finding a lover. An erudite blend of science and personal narrative, Sleep Demons offers a poignant introduction to the topics for which Hayes has since become famous, including art, eros, city life, the history of medical science, and queer identity.
Bill Hayes's critically acclaimed memoir Insomniac City provided a first look at his unique street photography. Now he presents an exquisite collection that captures the full range of his work and the magic of chance encounters in New York City. Hayes's "frank, beautiful, bewitching" street photographs "unmask their subjects' best and truest selves" (Jennifer Senior, New York Times): A policeman pauses at the end of a day. Cooks sneak in cigarette breaks. A pair of movers plays cards on the back of a truck. Friends claim the sidewalk. Lovers embrace. A flame-haired girl gazes mysteriously into the lens. And park benches provide a setting for a couple of hunks, a mom and her baby, a stylish nonagenarian . . . How New York Breaks Your Heart reveals ordinary New Yorkers at their most peaceful, joyful, distracted, anxious, expressive, and at their most fleeting--bringing the texture of the city to vivid life. Woven through with Hayes's lyric reflections, these photos will, like the city itself, break your heart by asking you to fall in love.
A first biography of one of Britain's leading lyric songwriters. The Man Who Wrote The Teddy Bears' Picnic tells the story of Irish-born Jimmy Kennedy, one of the last - and arguably the finest - of the professional Tin Pan Alley songwriters of the pre-Beatles 'golden age' of popular song. A fascinating insight into the life of a man who rose from small town beginnings to become for fifty years the lyrical and musical power behind some of the twentieth century’s top popular song entertainers from the days of Variety right up to The Beatles era. Jimmy had something like 30 No. 1 hits to his credit worldwide but is little known outside of music business circles. The book, written by his younger son, ex journalist J.J.Kennedy, sets out to remedy this omission and celebrates his contribution to the genre. Though his romantic ballads like Red Sails in the Sunset continue to be played all round the world, Jimmy is possibly best rembered today for the Cokey Cokey, which he adapted from a Canadian folk song in 1943, and The Teddy Bears' Picnic, which gave magical childrens' words to an old American tune. Well written and easy to read, the book serves as an excellent historical record of pop – and is full of facts, observations and authoritative comment on the cut and thrust ‘village’ that was Tin Pan Alley. It captures the bustle of the place and its almost industrial approach to song creation. It paints a colourful picture of some of the leading characters of the period and exposes the double dealing, greed and downright exploitation prevalent in that world. But the book also creates a romantic mysticism around the characters who dashed around in Denmark street, peddling their talent – so often in vain. It transports you to smoky little rooms with music coming from every corridor and it tells the story in black and white, like an old Hollywood movie. Swimming among all these sharks is the unlikely figure of Jimmy Kennedy – dapper and charming, modest and artistically fine-tuned, yet steely, resilient and highly commercial. A man who could spot the financial worth of his work, write to order – sometimes in lightning-quick time – and stand his ground when he knew he had a hit. He was in fact, a one man hit machine. But it wasn’t always one man, and the book illuminates the winning partnerships with Michael Carr, Will Grosz et al. One of the key strengths of the book is its nostalgia appeal and has some wonderful anecdotes including recollections from Terry Wogan, Val Doonican and others and non-musical people such as Denis and Margaret Thatcher. All in all, a very intelligent book and one which will become a work of reference for anyone studying the popular music art form of the twentieth century.

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