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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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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Walter Benjamin
The Story of a Friendship
Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem is celebrated as the twentieth century's most profound student of the Jewish mystical tradition; Walter Benjamin, as a master thinker whose extraordinary essays mix the revolutionary, the revelatory, and the esoteric. Scholem was a precocious teenager when he met Benjamin, who became his close friend and intellectual mentor.
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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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Door Wide Open
A Beat Love Affair in Letters 1957-1958
Joyce Johnson, Jack Kerouac
On a blind date in Greenwich Village set up by Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Johnson (then Joyce Glassman) met Jack Kerouac in January 1957, nine months before he became famous overnight with the publication of On the Road. She was an adventurous...
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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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My Brother
Jamaica Kincaid
To say that Jamaica Kincaid's My Brother, about her brother's death from AIDS in 1996, is "profoundly moving, terribly sad, beautifully written; a life-changing event," would be a cliché of the kind she abhors. It would also be true. —Recommended by Alexander, City Lights Books
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The Continual Pilgrimage
American Writers in Paris, 1944-1960
Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno
Between 1944 and 1960, a second wave of expatriate American writers took up residence in Paris, some seeking the exiting ambiance of art and the bohemian life that Paris has offered earlier generations, some escaping from racist and materialistic...
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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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The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem
1932-1940
Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, Gershom Scholem
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The Stiffest of the Corpse
An Exquisite Corpse Reader
Andrei Codrescu
The Stiffest of the Corpse brings together the best of the radical journal of books and ideas that galvanized the tepid literary world of the 1980s. Talk, erudition and savagery join here for a truly international assault on a mass hypnosis and image...
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Something Like An Autobiography
Akira Kurosawa
Translated by Audie E. Bock. "A first rate book and a joy to read.... It's doubtful that a complete understanding of the director's artistry can be obtained without reading this book.... Also indispensable for budding directors are the addenda, in...
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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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