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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Changing My Mind
Occasional Essays
Zadie Smith
"[These essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite, and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature, and a great deal in between." -Los Angeles Times Split into five sections-Reading, Being, Seeing...
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Chicken
Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
David Henry Sterry
I've never read anything quite like this memoir. David Henry Sterry performs a high-wire act in his vaudevilliain telling of life as a prostitute in 70s Hollywood. Alternately sad and hilarious, Sterry provokes serious thinking about family, sexuality, and addiction. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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The Continual Pilgrimage
American Writers in Paris, 1944-1960
Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno
Between 1944 and 1960, a second wave of expatriate American writers took up residence in Paris, some seeking the exiting ambiance of art and the bohemian life that Paris has offered earlier generations, some escaping from racist and materialistic...
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The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem
1932-1940
Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, Gershom Scholem
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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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Door Wide Open
A Beat Love Affair in Letters 1957-1958
Joyce Johnson, Jack Kerouac
On a blind date in Greenwich Village set up by Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Johnson (then Joyce Glassman) met Jack Kerouac in January 1957, nine months before he became famous overnight with the publication of On the Road. She was an adventurous...
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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Tom Wolfe
"An American classic" (Newsweek) that defined a generation. “An astonishing book” (The New York Times Book Review) and an unflinching portrait of Ken Kesey, his Merry Pranksters, and the...
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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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The End of San Francisco
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
"Mattilda is a dazzling writer of uncommon truths, a challenging writer who refuses to conform to conventionality. Her agitation is an inspiration." -- Justin Torres, author of "We the Animals"
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Essays
Wallace Shawn
"I've written plays and a few screenplays, in each one a person who isn't me speaks, and then another who isn't me replies, and then a third one enters or the first one speaks again. . . . I've even worked as a professional actor, speaking out loud...
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Everybody into the Pool
True Tales
Beth Lisick
Beth Lisick is the best kind of storyteller -- utterly original, naturally hilarious, wisely observant, and completely down-to-earth. Those who like David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Marjane Satrapi or Julie Doucet will absolutely love this book.
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The Stiffest of the Corpse
An Exquisite Corpse Reader
Andrei Codrescu
The Stiffest of the Corpse brings together the best of the radical journal of books and ideas that galvanized the tepid literary world of the 1980s. Talk, erudition and savagery join here for a truly international assault on a mass hypnosis and image...
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Fate, Time, and Language
An Essay on Free Will
David Foster Wallace, Steven M. Cahn, Maureen Eckert
In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the...
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Fine Fine Music
Stories
Cassie J. Sneider
Judd Apatow should collaborate with Cassie Sneider on his next screenplay, as she's a terrific writer who fearlessly mines her suburban life in this collection of stories that is guaranteed to bring you joy. I was blown away by her performance at our...

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