Biography, Memoir, & Belles-Lettres

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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100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write
On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater
Sarah Ruhl
"Don't send your characters to reform school!" pleads Sarah Ruhl in one of her essays. With titles as varied as "On lice," "On sleeping in theaters," and "Motherhood and stools (the furniture kind)," these essays are artful meditations on life in the arts and joyous jumbles of observations on everything in between.
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Men Explain Things To Me
Rebecca Solnit
In her comic, scathing essay, "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works.
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Arbitrary Stupid Goal
Tamara Shopsin
A philosophical (and illustrated) NYC voyage to the art of everyday ecstasy; Shopsin's refridgerator of wisdom contains pounds of plastic grapes, menus 35 years long, and crossword puzzle correspondences.—Recommended by Ryan
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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
A Memoir
Sherman Alexie
The sad and mirthful memoir by talented fiction writer and poet about the death of his mother is filled with stories and heartfelt poetry about growing up on and off an Indian reservation. If you've ever lost a loved one, it will bring tears to your eyes. ——Recommended by Don, City Lights Bookstore
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Sallies, Romps, Portraits and Send Offs
Selected Prose 2000-2018
A delightful and cantankerous collection of essays and criticism about good poets and bad poets, homicidal musicians, obsessive music collecting and the eerie delights of San Francisco fog. A perfect introduction to the local bard's tender and curmudgeonly oeuvre. —Recommended by Micheal, City Lights Bookstore
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Becoming Ms. Burton
From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women
Susan Burton
One woman's remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recovery—and recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement —Recommended by Elaine
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Book of Mutter
Kate Zambreno
—Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Bookstore Writing is how I attempt to repair myself, stitching back former selves, sentences. When I am brave enough I am never brave enough I unravel the tapestry of my life, my childhood. — from Book of Mutter
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Lost Profiles
Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism
Philippe Soupault
A literary retrospective of a crucial period in modernism—the transition from Dada to Surrealism––via portraits and encounters with its literary lions, including Joyce, Proust, Reverdy, Apollinaire, Crevel and more by the co-founder of the Paris surrealist group.
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Love, H
The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones
Hettie Jones
"It works, we're in business, yeah Babe!" So begins this remarkable selection from a forty-year correspondence between two artists who survived their time as wives in the Beat bohemia of the 1960s and went on to successful artistic careers of their own.
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Birth of a Dream Weaver
A Writer's Awakening
Ngugi Wa'Thiong'O
Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer's creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent in Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years where he found his voice as a playwright, journalist, and novelist, just as Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and other countries.
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Calamities
Renee Gladman
In what I'd call 'metafictional literary essays', Renee Gladman references parts of her life and writing, with distance, as if she is an observable thing that we can spectate with wondrous glee. I 'nerd out' over the sentences she's meticulously crafted. It is clever, honest, entertainingly mundane, and so good.
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Known and Strange Things
Essays
Teju Cole
A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today's most powerful and original voices.
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books

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