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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Robert Duncan in San Francisco
Michael Rumaker
A revealing portrait of a major poet of the SF Renaissance and a gripping account of late '50s gay life.
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The Last Holiday
A Memoir
Gil Scott-Heron
The stunning memoir of Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Holiday has been praised for bringing back to life one of the most important voices of the last fifty years. Now in paperback, The Last Holiday provides...
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Blue Nights
Joan Didion
Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband and daughter, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding children, illness and growing old.
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I Must Resist
Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters
Bayard Rustin, Michael G Long
BAYARD RUSTIN POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED THE 2013 PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM Bayard Rustin's life story told in his own words through his intimate correspondence, published on the centennial of his birth.
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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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Roman Letters
Evan Calder Williams
As a whole, this book casts a pessimistic glare toward late capitalism, each letter finding a theme or subject through which we can visualize the absurdity of our own surroundings. Yet beneath this pessimism exists a poetic razor which cuts through...
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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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The Autobiography
Miles Davis
For more than forty years Miles Davis has been in the front rank of American music. Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles is one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. The subject of several biographies, now Miles speaks out himself about his extraordinary life.
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Ten Years That Shook the City
San Francisco 1968-1978
Chris Carlsson
The alliances, programs, and goals of a historic decade that continues to shape SF and the world.
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Dreams in a Time of War
A Childhood Memoir
Ngugi Wa'Thiong'O
Born in 1938 in rural Kenya, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o came of age in the shadow of World War II, amidst the terrible bloodshed in the war between the Mau Mau and the British. The son of a man whose four wives bore him more than a score of children, young...
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White Hand Society
The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg
Peter Conners
How Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary launched the psychedelic revolution together: the inside story.
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Sad Stories of the Death of Kings
Barry Gifford
A vivid and unflinching portrait of a fatherless adolescent boy coming of age within the violent humanity of 1960s Chicago...
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Just Kids
Patti Smith
Just Kids illuminates the impressive lover of literature that Patti Smith is. Her memoir will be of particular interest to City Lights enthusiasts as she is our quintessential reader, a fan of the Surrealists...
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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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