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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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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How to Be Alone
Essays
Jonathan Franzen
From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the...
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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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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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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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The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath, Karen V. Kukil
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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You Can't Win
Jack Black
An amazing journey into the hobo underworld circa 1920. Jack Black takes his readers frieght-hopping around the still wide open West, becomes a member of the "yegg" (criminal) brotherhood and a highwayman, learns the outlaw philosophy from Foot-and-a-half George and the Sactimonious Kid, gets hooked on opium, passes through hobo jungles...
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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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Hell's Angels
A Strange and Terrible Saga
Hunter S. Thompson
"California, Labor Day weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and...
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Black Spring
Henry Miller
Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller takes readers along a mad, free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of...
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The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin
If you can honestly say that a book has never changed your life, then you haven't read The Fire Next Time. Said to have helped "galvanize" the Civil Rights movement, this powerful book beautifully, honestly, and, at times, heart-breakingly confronts the issue of race and racism in this country. Required reading for anyone interested in literature

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