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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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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Calamities
Renee Gladman
In what I'd call 'metafictional literary essays', Renee Gladman references parts of her life and writing, with distance, as if she is an observable thing that we can spectate with wondrous glee. I 'nerd out' over the sentences she's meticulously crafted. It is clever, honest, entertainingly mundane, and so good.
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Chester B. Himes
A Biography
Lawrence P. Jackson
Finally the definitive biography of the brilliant and often undervalued writer. Expansive, unflinching and deeply revelatory. —Recommended by Michael
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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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Criminal of Poverty
Growing Up Homeless in America
Lisa Gray-Garcia, aka Tiny
A daughter’s struggle to keep her family alive, through poverty, homelessness and incarceration.
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The Discomfort Zone
A Personal History
Jonathan Franzen
"Lovely, lyrical, and precise . . . What The Discomfort Zone resembles, in fact, is an old-fashioned diorama in a museum, displaying the airborne author at each stage of this evolution." – James Marcus, Los Angeles Times
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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 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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Facing Unpleasant Facts
George Orwell
George Orwell was first and foremost an essayist, producing throughout his life an extraordinary array of short nonfiction that reflected--and illuminated--the fraught times in which he lived. "As soon as he began to write something," comments George...
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Farm City
The Education of an Urban Farmer
Novella Carpenter
An hilarious and inspiring account of one woman's attempt to feed herself entirely off of what could be grown on an abandoned lot in West Oakland—including turkeys, rabbits, and one Chez Panisse gobbling pig. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin
If you can honestly say that a book has never changed your life, then you haven't read The Fire Next Time. Said to have helped "galvanize" the Civil Rights movement, this powerful book beautifully, honestly, and, at times, heart-breakingly confronts the issue of race and racism in this country. Required reading for anyone interested in literature
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The Hare with Amber Eyes
A Hidden Inheritance
Edmund de Waal
An Economist Book of the Year        Costa Book Award Winner for Biography     Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award)Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots—which are then...
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House of Prayer No. 2
A Writer's Journey Home
Mark Richard
Based on its subject matter and jacket copy, this might have been an inspirational memoir. But in Mark Richard's hands, the story of his own life is weird and unsettling and haunting and very much like an ocean hiding outlandish fauna somewhere beneath...
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How to Live
Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
Sarah Bakewell
How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love—such questions arise in most people’s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: How do you live? This question obsessed Renaissance writers...

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