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 Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family. Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of...
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In the House of the Interpreter
A Memoir
Ngugi Wa'Thiong'O
Ngugi wa Thiong'o is a writer who has lived through extraordinary times. In the House of the Interpreter tells the story of his schooldays in Kenya against the backdrop of the intensification of the struggle for independence.
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The Peep Diaries
How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors
Hal Niedzviecki
One man's journey through a rapidly transforming culture of lying, spying, revealing, and confessing
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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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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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Beautiful Chaos
A Life in the Theater
Carey Perloff
Available Now: Carey Perloff, Artistic Director of San Francisco's A.C.T., offers a provocative, passionate, and deeply personal view of theater's role today.
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The Sense of Style
The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
Steven Pinker
Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care? In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more.
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The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath's journals were originally published in 1982 in a heavily abridged version authorized by Plath's husband, Ted Hughes. This new edition is an exact and complete transcription of the diaries Plath kept during the last twelve years of her life.
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Don't Let Me Be Lonely
An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
In this powerful sequence of TV images and essay, Claudia Rankine explores the personal and political unrest of our volatile new century I forget things too. It makes me sad. Or it makes me the saddest. The sadness is not really about George W. or our American optimism; the sadness lives in the recognition that a life can not matter.
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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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Letters on Life
New Prose Translations
Rainer Maria Rilke
Gleaned from Rainer Maria Rilke's voluminous, never-before-translated correspondence, this volume offers the best writings and personal philosophy of one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets. The result is a profound vision of how the...
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Nabokov in America
On the Road to Lolita
Robert Roper
How did Lolita come to be? The author dissects Nabokov's exile in America and the masterpiece resulting from it, without lionizing either the man or his ouevre. Engaging. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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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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I Must Resist
Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters
Bayard Rustin, Julian Bond, 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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