Biography, Memoir, Essays
Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.

   
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How to Grow Up
A Memoir
Michelle Tea
This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Becoming Richard Pryor
Scott Saul
A major biography—intimate, gripping, revelatory—of an artist who revolutionized American comedy. Richard Pryor may have been the most unlikely star in Hollywood history. Raised in his family's brothels, he grew up an outsider to privilege. He took to the stage, originally, to escape the hard-bitten realities of his childhood, but later...
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Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
A Memoir
Viv Albertine
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a raw chronicle of music, fashion, love, sex, feminism, and more that connects the early days of punk to the Riot Grrl movement and beyond. But even more profoundly, Viv Albertine's remarkable memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it...
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Henry Miller
Critical Lives
David Stephen Calonne
As an author, Henry Miller (1891–1980) was infamous for his explicit descriptions of sex, and many of his novels, from The Tropic of Cancer to Black Spring, were banned in the United States on grounds of obscenity. But his books—frequently smuggled into his native country—became a major influence on the Beat Generation of American writers...
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"Literchoor Is My Beat"
A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
Ian S. MacNiven
A biography—thoughtful and playful—of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing. James Laughlin—a poet, publisher, world-class skier—was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century.
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Widow Basquiat
A Love Story
Jennifer Clement
A vivid portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 80s New York City. Graffiti, drugs, music, and the relationship between him and his muse Suzanne Mallouk. This is a sad, moving, and poetic read about this fascinating artist.—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Man Alive
A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man
Thomas Page McBee
Out now from City Lights/Sister Spit: Far from a transgender transition tell-all, here is a personal yet universal story of charting one's course to ultimate self-recognition. Thomas Page McBee's writings on gender have appeared in the New York Times, Vice, and Salon, and he writes the "Self-Made Man" column for The Rumpus
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Furious Cool
Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
David Henry, Joe Henry
In this loose and lyrical labor of love, brothers David and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, capturing his spirit and genius and the monumental demons that fueled him. It's billed as a biography but it's really more than that, delving deep enough to make you look at Pryor and his legacy in a whole new light. —Recommended
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Seeking the Cave
A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain
James P. Lenfestey
In this transformative book, award-winning poet and essayist James Lenfestey makes an epic journey across the world to find the Cold Mountain Cave, a location long believed to exist only in myths and the ancient home of his idol, Han Shan, author of the Cold Mountain poems. Lenfestey's voyage takes him from the Midwestern United States to...
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The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher
Kim Bancroft
Northern California's book publishers are idiosyncratic, uncompromising, funky, forward-thinking, often brilliant, but largely unheralded beyond the state’s borders. Here’s the perfect book to shift that paradigm. Malcolm Margolin’s story of creating and sustaining Heyday Books, a vital Berkeley-based press celebrating its 40th anniversary...
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The Sense of Style
The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
Steven Pinker
Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care? In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more.
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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Most Dangerous Book
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses
Kevin Birmingham
"A great story--how modernism brought down the regime of censorship--told as a great story. Kevin Birmingham's imaginative scholarship brings Joyce and his world to life. There is a fresh detail on nearly every page."--Louis Menand, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Metaphysical Club
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Woman with Guitar
Memphis Minnie's Blues
Paul Garon, Beth Garon
A revised, expanded edition of the quintessential portrait of one of the blues' greatest artists and the popular poetry of her lyrics.

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