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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The Art of Memoir
Mary Karr
Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.
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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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The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance...
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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.
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Girl In a Band
A Memoir
Kim Gordon
This sharply observed, collage-like memoir of a life in music and art left me inspired and ready for a new musical vision. The evocative Didion-esque depiction of Kim's girlhood in the post-Manson landscape of Los Angeles, the wild early '80s downtown NY art / no wave existence then, of course, her years spent playing bass in Sonic Youth…
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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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Waterman
The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku
David Davis
Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, waterman. Long before Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz made their splashes in the pool, Kahanamoku emerged from the backwaters of Waikiki to become America's first superstar Olympic swimmer.
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Writing Across the Landscape
Travel Journals 1960-2010
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Giada Diano, Matthew Gleeson
This long-awaited volume provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond.
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Stars Seen in Person
Selected Journals
John Wieners, Michael Seth Stewart
Four unpublished journals by a master of the form, one of the greatest American poets of the 20th Century.
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When the Sick Rule the World
Dodie Bellamy
A moving meld of essay, memoir, and story, When the Sick Rule the World collects Dodie Bellamy's new and recent lyric prose. Taking on topics as eclectic as vomit, Kathy Acker's wardrobe, and Occupy Oakland, Bellamy here examines illness, health, and the body -- both the social body and the individual body -- in essays that glitter with wit.
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Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a tremendous gift to the world. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Scott & Paul, City Lights Books
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To Protect and Serve Who?
Organizing a Movement to Abolish Police Violence
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Direct from City Lights: An essay-pamphlet by Mumia Abu-Jamal on ending police violence, a companion to the book Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writing of Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Writing on the Wall
Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Johanna Fernández
New Release: Mumia Abu-Jamal's essential perspectives on black experience, race relations, freedom, justice, social change, and the future of American society. With a foreword by Cornel West.

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