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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The Pawnbroker's Daughter
A Memoir
Maxine Kumin
From Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Maxine Kumin comes a timeless memoir of life, love, and poetry.
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Absence of the Hero
Uncollected Stories and Essays, Vol. 2: 1946-1992
Charles Bukowski, David Stephen Calonne
Everyone's favorite Dirty Old Man returns with more boozy tales of extraordinary madness
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The Abundance
Narrative Essays Old and New
Annie Dillard
Hypnotic, hallucinatory, ripe, unsparing, weird, gorgeous—Dillard is all of these but none say quite enough. A master. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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American Romances
Essays
Rebecca Brown
New England Puritanism meets West Coast hedonism in an inventive remix of America's cultural history.
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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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The Autobiography of Malcolm X
As Told to Alex Haley
Malcolm X
Malcolm X understood the ways in which both Western media and history would depict him with horns and as a symbol of violence. Being so much more than this, this book is eye-opening, transformative, and of the highest literary merit. A Must-Read! —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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The Awakener
A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties
Helen Weaver
Helen Weaver's intimate memoir of love and friendship with Jack Kerouac and the Beats
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Beautiful Chaos
A Life in the Theater
Carey Perloff
Carey Perloff, Artistic Director of San Francisco's A.C.T., offers a provocative, passionate, and deeply personal view of theater's role today.
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The Beautiful Struggle
A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
Ta-Nehisi Coates
An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us. Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and...
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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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Bitchfest
Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine
In the wake of Sassy and as an alternative to the more staid reporting of Ms., Bitch was launched in the mid-nineties as a Xerox-and-staple zine covering the landscape of popular culture from a feminist perspective. Both unabashed in its love for the...
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Black Spring
Henry Miller
Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller takes readers along a mad, free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of...
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Blue Nights
Joan Didion
Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband and daughter, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding children, illness and growing old.

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