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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You'll Be Okay
My Life with Jack Kerouac
Edie Kerouac-Parker
"We’ve officially entered what might as well be called Jack Kerouac Awareness Month. It’s the 50th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Road,' and the commemorations include . . . a memoir, 'You’ll Be Okay,' from Kerouac’s first wife." – NY Times
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The Discomfort Zone
A Personal History
Jonathan Franzen
"Lovely, lyrical, and precise . . . What The Discomfort Zone resembles, in fact, is an old-fashioned diorama in a museum, displaying the airborne author at each stage of this evolution." – James Marcus, Los Angeles Times
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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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The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
From one of America's iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone...
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Criminal of Poverty
Growing Up Homeless in America
Lisa Gray-Garcia, aka Tiny
A daughter’s struggle to keep her family alive, through poverty, homelessness and incarceration.
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Howl on Trial
The Battle for Free Expression
Bill Morgan, Nancy J. Peters
The inside story of the publication and defense of Howl in correspondence, documents and photographs.
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Time Was Soft There
A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
Jeremy Mercer
This is for all travelers of the world. Mercer captures the essence of living and working at the historic bookstore Shakespeare and Co. These tales of laughter and woe will entertain you and make you want to travel—or at least visit Paris and meet the immortal George Whitman, and hope he invites you to tea. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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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In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country
Etel Adnan
A mosaic of lyrical vignettes, at once deeply personal and political, set against the turbulent backdrop of Arab/Western relations. Adnan writes, "Contrary to what is usually believed, it is not general ideas and grandiose unfolding of great events...
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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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The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
A Love Story . . . with Wings
Mark Bittner
Like a lot of young people in the 1970s, Mark Bittner took the path of the “dharma bum.” When the counterculture faded, Mark held on, seeking shelter in the nooks and crannies of San Francisco’s fabled bohemian neighborhood, North...
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Where I Was From
Joan Didion
In her moving and insightful new book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history and ours. A native Californian, Didion applies her scalpel-like intelligence to the state’s ethic of ruthless self-sufficiency in order to...
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Indigenous
Growing up Californian
Cris Mazza
Cris Mazza delivers a spirited rebuttal to pop-culture stereotypes about growing up female in Southern California. Coming of age in the 1970s and '80s, Mazza's memories aren't about surfing, cheerleading or riding in convertibles. Though her story...
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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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