In 2009 the writer Bill Hayes moved to New York from California with a one-way ticket and uncertain future, and gradually came to know his new neighbour – the legendary neurologist and author of Awakenings Oliver Sacks.
This talk based on Bill Hayes’s memoir Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me will provide a double-portrait of the man described as ‘the poet laureate of medicine’ and of New York : the consolations of its neighbourhoods and its people, a buzzing hive of strangers who strive separately but often turn to face one another. A lifelong insomniac, Hayes took to wandering at night with his camera, having chance encounters with buildings and parks and other sleepless urbanites – and falling in love, against all expectations, with his friend and neighbour, Oliver Sacks.
Join us for an evening of multiple portraiture.
Note on Oliver Sacks:
In 1973 the neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote Awakenings, a profoundly influential account of his encounters in a New York hospital with encephalitic parkinsonism, a mysterious disease that locked its victims for decades inside a comatose prison, as speechless and motionless as stopped clocks – until Sacks administered a remarkable new drug, L-Dopa, which propelled them out of deep sleep into the present moment, with explosive consequences for everyone involved. Sacks went on to treat and describe other extreme neurological conditions, in which the human brain behaves like an orchestra without a conductor, making its own music. But his case histories were always of individuals rather than conditions, opening up the patient’s perspective, exploring the human ability to make sense of an altered world.