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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It Chooses You
Miranda July
July is an incredible artist. She's also a film director, actress and screenwriter (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and this book chronicles her strange yet endlessly intriguing creative process. She finds herself with writer's block during...
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You'll Be Okay
My Life with Jack Kerouac
Edie Kerouac-Parker
"We’ve officially entered what might as well be called Jack Kerouac Awareness Month. It’s the 50th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Road,' and the commemorations include . . . a memoir, 'You’ll Be Okay,' from Kerouac’s first wife." – NY Times
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Moving Targets
Stephen Kessler
These personal and critical essays explore the lives and works of 24 key poets of the late 20th and early 21st centuries including Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Bob Kaufman, Gary Snyder, Jack...
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My Brother
Jamaica Kincaid
To say that Jamaica Kincaid's My Brother, about her brother's death from AIDS in 1996, is "profoundly moving, terribly sad, beautifully written; a life-changing event," would be a cliché of the kind she abhors. It would also be true. —Recommended by Alexander, City Lights Books
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Who's to Say What's Obscene?
Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today
Paul Krassner
Satirical essays by a countercultural icon about the moral obscenity of contemporary politics, culture, and comedy
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Yokohama Threeway
And Other Small Shames
Beth Lisick
"Beth Lisick's kaleidoscopic whirlwind tour through her secret shames is the ultimate joyride for those of us who enjoy cringe-worthy embarrassment, genuine pathos, and an overdosing amount of schadenfreude."—Michael Ian Black
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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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Ongoingness
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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Malcolm X
A Life of Reinvention
Manning Marable
Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figures in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a...
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Indigenous
Growing up Californian
Cris Mazza
Cris Mazza delivers a spirited rebuttal to pop-culture stereotypes about growing up female in Southern California. Coming of age in the 1970s and '80s, Mazza's memories aren't about surfing, cheerleading or riding in convertibles. Though her story...
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Man Alive
A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man
Thomas Page McBee
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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San Francisco Beat
Talking with the Poets
David Meltzer
San Francisco Beat is an essential archive of the Beat Generation, a rich moment in a fortunate place. America-somnolent, conformist, and paranoid in the 1950s-was changed forever by a handful of people who refused an existence of drudgery and...
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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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Howl on Trial
The Battle for Free Expression
Bill Morgan, Nancy J. Peters
The inside story of the publication and defense of Howl in correspondence, documents and photographs.

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