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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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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Inside a Pearl
My Years in Paris
Edmund White
When Edmund White moved to Paris in 1983, leaving New York City in the midst of the AIDS crisis, he was forty-three years old, couldn't speak French, and only knew two people in the entire city. But in middle age, he discovered the new anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new culture. When he left fifteen years later to take a teaching position..
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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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Just Kids
Patti Smith
Winner of the National Book Award. 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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King of Shadows
Aaron Shurin
A candid and rich account of gay life as a poet in San Francisco since the 1960s
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Life As We Show It
Writing On Film
Brian Pera, Masha Tupitsyn
Writings about the influence of film on the cultural and individual imagination
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Like Shaking Hands with God
A Conversation about Writing
Kurt Vonnegut, Lee Stringer
In Like Shaking Hands with God, two distinguished writers—separated by age, race, upbringing, and education, but sharing common goals and aspirations—talk about the place where the lives they lead meet the art they practice. That these two writers...
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Little Failure
A Memoir
Gary Shteyngart
After three acclaimed novels, Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far. Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging...
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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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Mingus Speaks
John F. Goodman
A sun speaks. At times promethean, hilarious, and vexing, this is Mingus as spontaneous combustion. The music is in his words.—Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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Moondog
The Viking of 6th Avenue
Robert Scotto
Moondog was, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing human beings on the planet. A blind, homeless composer who made his own clothing and instruments, he was a self-proposed "viking" and a total enigma who roamed the streets of New York. Nonetheless, he wrote brilliant compositions and, ultimately, broadened the horizons of classical music...
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The Most Dangerous Book
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses
Kevin Birmingham
"A great story--how modernism brought down the regime of censorship--told as a great story. Kevin Birmingham's imaginative scholarship brings Joyce and his world to life. There is a fresh detail on nearly every page."--Louis Menand, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Metaphysical Club
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Nan Dòmi
An Initiate's Journey into Haitian Vodou
Mimerose Beaubrun
Just released! The first and only insider's account of Vodou's private, mystical, interior practice, a compelling story of initiation and transformation.
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
A New Critical Edition by Angela Y. Davis
Frederick Douglass, Angela Y. Davis
A new edition of the African American masterpiece featuring critical essays by Angela Y. Davis

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