“A poem,” E.B. White wrote in his timeless 1949 love letter to New York, “compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry.” The poetics of any city, but especially of this city, springs from its glorious, unmetered humanity. The New York poem is sometimes a serenade to loneliness, sometimes an ode to unsung heroes, and always an elegy in the classic poetic sense of celebration and lamentation welded together. That electric beauty with an edge of sorrow comes alive in How New York Breaks Your Heart (public library) by Bill Hayes.
After his stirring memoir of Oliver Sacks and New York, Hayes — himself an elegant science writer as well as a photographer — turns his sensitive, sympathetic lens to the human poetics coursing through the streets of the iconic city at all hours of the day and night, across every social stratum, every age, every feeling-tone. From the hipsters and the homeless and the protesters and the lovers — oh so many lovers — emerges a chorus…
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