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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Don't Let Me Be Lonely
An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
In this powerful sequence of TV images and essay, Claudia Rankine explores the personal and political unrest of our volatile new century I forget things too. It makes me sad. Or it makes me the saddest. The sadness is not really about George W. or our American optimism; the sadness lives in the recognition that a life can not matter.
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Blue Octavo Notebooks
Franz Kafka
From late 1917 until June 1919, Franz Kafka stopped writing entries in his diary, which he kept in quarto-sized notebooks, but continued to write in a series of smaller, octavo-sized notebooks.
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Gaudi
A Biography
Gijs van Hensbergen
At the time of his death in 1926, Antoni Gaudí was arguably the most famous architect in the world. He had created some of the greatest and most controversial masterpieces of modern architecture, which were as exotic as they were outrageous.
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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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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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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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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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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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Living My Life
Volume 1
Emma Goldman
The no-holds-barred account by American anarchist Goldman relates her philosophical and political journey through life. Explore the politicization of the young Russian immigrant as she arrives in the United States in 1886...

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