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 Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The...
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Changing My Mind
Occasional Essays
Zadie Smith
"[These essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite, and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature, and a great deal in between." -Los Angeles Times Split into five sections-Reading, Being, Seeing...
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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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Just Kids
Unabridged Audiobook
Patti Smith
Patti Smith reads her award-winning memoir
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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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Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors
Susan Sontag
In l978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." A cancer patient herself when she was writing the book, Sontag shows how the metaphors and myths surrounding...
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Lost Profiles
Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism
Philippe Soupault
A literary retrospective of a crucial period in modernism—the transition from Dada to Surrealism––via portraits and encounters with its literary lions, including Joyce, Proust, Reverdy, Apollinaire, Crevel and more by the co-founder of the Paris surrealist group.
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Stars Seen in Person
Selected Journals
John Wieners, Michael Seth Stewart
Four unpublished journals by a master of the form, one of the greatest American poets of the 20th Century.
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Maps of the Imagination
The Writer as Cartographer
Peter Turchi
What can German globe makers, British cartographers, the Marx brothers, and Roadrunner cartoons tell us about writers from Sappho to Italo Calvino? According to fiction writer Peter Turchi both cartographers and writers draw from the same well of...
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Nobody's Home
Essays
Dubravka Ugresic
"Every day and age has its rules. Currently, good behavior dictates that we be politically correct, evade conflicts, espouse tolerance, and make no hasty judgments. To be judgmental is viewed as one of the most reprehensible human traits. People are...
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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
Essays and Arguments
David Foster Wallace
This exuberantly praised--and uproariously funny--first collection of nonfiction pieces by one of the most acclaimed and adventurous writers of our time--the author of "Infinite Jest"--"reconfirms Mr. Wallace's stature as one of his generation's...
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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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The Awakener
A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties
Helen Weaver
Helen Weaver's intimate memoir of love and friendship with Jack Kerouac and the Beats
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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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