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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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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The Last Empress
Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China
Hannah Pakula
With the beautiful, powerful, and sexy Madame Chiang Kai-Shek at the center of one of the great dramas of the twentieth century, this is the story of the founding of modern China, starting with a revolution that swept away more than 2,000 years of...
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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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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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Man Alive
A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man
Thomas Page McBee
Out now from City Lights/Sister Spit: 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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Maps of the Imagination
The Writer as Cartographer
Peter Turchi
What can German globe makers, British cartographers, the Marx brothers, and Roadrunner cartoons tell us about writers from Sappho to Italo Calvino? According to fiction writer Peter Turchi both cartographers and writers draw from the same well of...
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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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Missing Men
A Memoir
Joyce Johnson
Joyce Johnson’s classic memoir of growing up female in the 1950s, Minor Characters, was one of the initiators of an important new genre: the personal story of a minor player on history’s stage.
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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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