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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The Oblivion Seekers
Isabelle Eberhardt
Isabelle Eberhardt was an unusual woman, and we're fortunate to glimpse her unique meld of European angst and Algerian verve. We're equally lucky for Paul Bowles's sympathetic, robust biography that precedes Eberhardt's 13 short stories. Born in...
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Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook
Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990
Charles Bukowski, David Stephen Calonne
Essential uncollected work from one of the most infamous and provocative contemporary American writers.
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The Possessed
Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
Elif Batuman
Batuman is a natural storyteller. Her love of literature is delightfully infectious. Using the Russian greats as inspiration for research and travel, her exploits reveal a writer who is at once keenly observant, erudite, sensitive and truly hilarious.
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Rad American Women A-Z
Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!
Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl
New York Times Bestseller! A book for children—and their parents, teachers, and cool grown-up friends—documenting America's famous and unsung heroines.
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Red Parts
Autobiography of a Trail
Maggie Nelson
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Ringolevio
A Life Played for Keeps
Emmett Grogan
Ringolevio is a classic American story of self-invention by one of the more mysterious and alluring figures to emerge in the 1960s. Emmett Grogan grew up on New York City's mean streets, getting hooked on heroin before he was in his teens, kicking the...
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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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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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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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Savage Beauty
The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Nancy Milford
This remarkable poet lived the life of a flaming comet. She said it best herself: "My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—It gives a lovely light!" —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Selected Letters of John Cage
John Cage, Laura Kuhn
Letters of an avant-garde icon available to the public for the first time This selection of over five hundred letters gives us the life of John Cage with all the intelligence, wit, and inventiveness that made him such an important and groundbreaking composer and performer.
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Shoot An Iraqi
Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun
Wafaa Bilal, Kari Lydersen
An award-winning Iraqi artist's life story and the impact of his highly provocative interactive art piece
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Sirens
A Memoir
Joshua Mohr
Acclaimed novelist Joshua Mohr provides a captivating and complicated account of his years of substance abuse and culpability in his non-fiction debut. Employing the characterization and chimerical prose for which he has been lauded, Mohr traces his childhood swilling fuzzy navels as a latch-key kid, through his first failed marriage, parenthood..
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Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Essays
Joan Didion
The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on...

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