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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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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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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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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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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Against Interpretation
And Other Essays
Susan Sontag
As well as the title essay and the famous Notes on Camp, Against Interpretation includes original, provocative, and impassioned discussions on Sartre, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious...
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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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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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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 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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