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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Leaving Orbit
Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Feeling torn between great science writing, a searching memoir, a critique of government, and some literary criticism? Fear not, they can all be had in one volume, and this is it. A surprisingly emotional take on the end of NASA's space shuttle program—but so much more. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Story of Alice
Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is all but steeped in the milieu and culture of Victorian England, so much so that reading this one feels less that Dodgson created Alice than that the age did, and that Dodgson was serendipitously poised to transcribe it— and not forgetting the young Alice Liddell without whom... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Hold Still
A Memoir with Photographs
Sally Mann
A revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history from acclaimed photographer Sally Mann. In this groundbreaking book, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA...
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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: the story of...
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Distant Neighbors
The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder
Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Chad Wriglesworth
In 1969 Gary Snyder returned from a long residence in Japan to the Sierra foothills, where he intended to build a house and settle with his wife and sons. He had just published his first book of essays, Earth House Hold. A few years before, Wendell Berry left New York City for farmland in Port Royal, Kentucky, where he built a small studio...
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The End of a Diary
Sarah Manguso
A strange thing happened when I finished this book: I realized I could not really remember what words had been said, but instead the deep sensations I felt while reading. This is a hypnotic exploration of time and memory that evokes much but prescribes little (and that's a good thing). —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Rad American Women A-Z
Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!
Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl
New York Times Bestseller! A book for children—and their parents, teachers, and cool grown-up friends—documenting America's famous and unsung heroines.
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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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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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Beautiful Chaos
A Life in the Theater
Carey Perloff
Available Now: 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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Six Women of a Dangerous Generation
Judith Mackrell
By the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrowraising new attitudes about art and sex--all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this the Jazz Age--Josephine Baker, Tallula
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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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