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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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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Salinger
David Shields, Shane Salerno
Based on eight years of exhaustive research and exclusive interviews with more than 200 people—and published in coordination with the international theatrical release of a major documentary film from the Weinstein Company—Salinger is a global cultural event: the definitive biography of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the...
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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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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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I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons
Beautifly written, impossible to put down, and an absolute must for any Cohen fan! Or, for that matter, for any fan of the worlds of travel, religion and poetry, as well as the inner workings of the music industry. Cohen was such an interesting man...
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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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Fine Fine Music
Stories
Cassie J. Sneider
Judd Apatow should collaborate with Cassie Sneider on his next screenplay, as she's a terrific writer who fearlessly mines her suburban life in this collection of stories that is guaranteed to bring you joy. I was blown away by her performance at our...
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Against Interpretation
And Other Essays
Susan Sontag
As well as the title essay and the famous Notes on Camp, Against Interpretation includes original, provocative, and impassioned discussions on Sartre, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious...
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Susan Sontag
The Complete Rolling Stone Interview
Susan Sontag, Jonathan Cott
"One of my oldest crusades is against the distinction between thought and feeling, which is really the basis of all anti-intellectual views: the heart and the head, thinking and feeling, fantasy and judgment . . . and I don't believe it’s true. . . . I have the impression that thinking is a form of feeling and that feeling is...
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Chicken
Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
David Henry Sterry
I've never read anything quite like this memoir. David Henry Sterry performs a high-wire act in his vaudevilliain telling of life as a prostitute in 70s Hollywood. Alternately sad and hilarious, Sterry provokes serious thinking about family, sexuality, and addiction. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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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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Consider the Lobster
And Other Essays
David Foster Wallace
Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling..
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This Is Water
Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
David Foster Wallace
Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through...
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Role Models
John Waters
Here, from the incomparable John Waters, is a paean to the power of subversive inspiration that will delight, amuse, enrich—and happily horrify—readers everywhere. Role Models is, in fact, a self-portrait told through intimate profiles of favorite...

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