cover image How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic

How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic

Bill Hayes. Bloomsbury, $20 (144p) ISBN 978-1-6355-7688-7

In this somber reflection, author and photographer Hayes (Insomniac City) chronicles life in New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hayes’s question perfectly sums up the times: “What if I looked out and saw no cars at all? Not one. As if every last person in Manhattan were taken by this pandemic, except for me, standing alone up here.” Images of empty streets and subways, when juxtaposed with Hayes’s recollections—mostly of romances and amusing encounters with other New Yorkers—make for a startlingly potent contrast and show how abruptly life shifted from the pre-coronavirus world to the “new normal” of today. Hayes captures acts of kindness during the pandemic: shopkeepers providing for their community, medical personnel on break or in training, and a woman making a mandala. The volume also provides an occasion for reflection, “In the enforced solitude and silence, you can sometimes hear yourself replaying moments in your life, things said or not said, done or not done, love expressed or not expressed, all the gratitude you’ve ever received, all the gratitude you’ve ever felt.” Hayes’s photos movingly capture a fraught and frightening moment in history. (Aug.)