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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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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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 Lady with the Borzoi
Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire
Laura Claridge
Left off her company's fifth anniversary tribute but described by Thomas Mann as "the soul of the firm," Blanche Knopf began her career when she founded Alfred A. Knopf with her husband in 1915. With her finger on the pulse of a rapidly changing culture, Blanche quickly became a driving force behind the firm.
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Leaving Orbit
Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Feeling torn between great science writing, a searching memoir, a critique of government, and some literary criticism? Fear not, they can all be had in one volume, and this is it. A surprisingly emotional take on the end of NASA's space shuttle program—but so much more. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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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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Lion Songs
Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe
Banning Eyre
Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and cultural identity.
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Living My Life
Volume 1
Emma Goldman
The no-holds-barred account by American anarchist Goldman relates her philosophical and political journey through life. Explore the politicization of the young Russian immigrant as she arrives in the United States in 1886...
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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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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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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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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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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Nan Dòmi
An Initiate's Journey into Haitian Vodou
Mimerose Beaubrun
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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