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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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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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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Frequencies Volume 4
Spring 2014
Loving this journal. In Volume 4 Joshua Mohr writes about men and boys, Ruth Gila Berger considers the evolution of life plans and the shaping of a new American family, and a "definitive interview" is offered with Shia LaBeouf.
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Distant Neighbors
The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder
Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Chad Wriglesworth
Berry and Snyder exchanged more than 240 letters from 1973 to 2013, bringing out the best in each other as they grappled with faith and reason, discussed home and family, worried over the disintegration of community and commonwealth, and shared the details of the lives they'd chosen with their families.
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The Empathy Exams
Essays
Leslie Jamison
If you've got a glowing, tender heart and wonder how it's possible to feel so much, this is the book for you. Hypochondriacs are advised to skip essay #2.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Stokely
A Life
Peniel E. Joseph
Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm...

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