Biography

The Years
Annie Ernaux
Fitzcarraldo Editions - 19.50€ -

Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist’s defining work, The Years is a narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present, cultural habits, language, photos, books, songs, radio, television, advertising and news headlines. Annie Ernaux invents a form that is subjective and impersonal, private and communal, and a new genre – the collective autobiography – in order to capture the passing of time. At the confluence of autofiction and sociology, The Years is ‘a Remembrance of Things Past for our age of media domination and consumerism’ (New York Times), a monumental account of twentieth-century French history as refracted through the life of one woman.

Translated by Alison L. Strayer.

Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint
Cecilia Ferrazzi
University of Chicago Press - 21.00€ -

Charged by the Venetian Inquisition with the conscious and cynical feigning of holiness, Cecelia Ferrazzi (1609-1684) requested and obtained the unprecedented opportunity to defend herself through a presentation of her life story. Ferrazzi’s unique inquisitorial autobiography and the transcripts of her preceding testimony, expertly transcribed and eloquently translated into English, allow us to enter an unfamiliar sector of the past and hear ’another voice’—that of a humble Venetian woman who had extraordinary experiences and exhibited exceptional courage.

Born in 1609 into an artisan family, Cecilia Ferrazzi wanted to become a nun. When her parents’ death in the plague of 1630 made it financially impossible for her to enter the convent, she refused to marry and as a single laywoman set out in pursuit of holiness. Eventually she improvised a vocation: running houses of refuge for “girls in danger,” young women at risk of being lured into prostitution.

Ferrazzi’s frequent visions persuaded her, as well as some clerics and acquaintances among the Venetian elite, that she was on the right track. The socially valuable service she was providing enhanced this impresssion. Not everyone, however, was convinced that she was a genuine favorite of God. In 1664 she was denounced to the Inquisition. 

The Inquisition convicted Ferrazzi of the pretense of sanctity. Yet her autobiographical act permits us to see in vivid detail both the opportunities and the obstacles presented to seventeenth-century women.

Rooms: Women, Writing, Woolf
Sina Queyras
Coach House Books - 18.00€ -

From LAMBDA Literary Award winner Sina Queyras, Rooms offers a peek into the defining spaces a young queer writer moved through as they found their way from a life of chaos to a life of the mind.

Thirty years ago, a professor threw a chair at Sina Queyras after they'd turned in an essay on Virginia Woolf.

Queyras returns to that contentious first encounter with Virignia Woolf to recover the body and thinking of that time. Using Woolf's A Room of One's Own as a touchstone, this book is both an homage to and provocation of the idea of a room of one's own at the centre of our idea of a literary life.

How central is the room? And what happens once we get one? Do we inhabit our rooms? Or do the rooms contain us? Blending memoir, prose, tweets, poetry, and criticism, Rooms offers a peek into the defining spaces a young queer writer moved through as they found their way from a life of chaos to a life of the mind, and from a very private life of the mind to a public life of the page, and from a life of the page into a life in the Academy, the Internet, and on social media.

Gay Guerrilla – L'histoire de Julius Eastman
Julius Eastman
Éditions 1989 - 21.00€ -

A collection of biographical and musical essays about composer-performer Julius Eastman—a compelling portrait of Eastman's enigmatic and intriguing life and music.

Julius Eastman—composer, pianist and singer—began his professional journey at Ithaca College in New York State. Braving adversity penniless, yet with a few compositions in hand, in the 1970s he joined the experimental downtown New York music scene, collaborating with John Cage, Arthur Russell, Meredith Monk and Peter Maxwell Davies. In 1990, after seven years of "voluntary martyrdom" amidst psychotropic drugs and homeless wanderings, Eastman died and fell into obscurity. 

African-American, Eastman used his art throughout his life as a shield against the racial tensions dividing the United States, selecting titles for his compositions (Evil Nigger; Crazy Nigger) to shake up morals. Partly inspired by Patti Smith and her anthem Rock N Roll Nigger, these controversial titles were meant to honor Africans for their importance in the history of building the American economy, and constitute one of the singularities of his work.

Gay Guerrilla : l'histoire de Julius Eastman is the first French-language book devoted to the artist. From The New Yorker to the New York Times, posthumous praise for the composer reigns today, recognizing him as an iconic figure in the history of America's avant-garde.

My Life and My Life in the Nineties
Lyn Hejinian
Wesleyan - 17.00€ -

New edition of one of the founding works of Language writing. 

Lyn Hejinian is among the most prominent of contemporary American poets. Her poem My Life has garnered accolades and fans inside and outside academia. First published in 1980, and revised in 1987 and 2002, My Life is now firmly established in the postmodern canon. This Wesleyan edition includes the 45-part prose poem sequence along with a closely related ten-part work titled My Life in the Nineties. An experimental intervention into the autobiographical genre, My Life explores the many ways in which language — — the things people say and the ways they say them — shapes not only their identity, but also the very world around them.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name: A Biomythography
Audre Lorde
Crossing Press Berkeley - 17.00€ -

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is a 1982 autobiography by African-American poet Audre Lorde. It started a new genre that the author calls biomythography, which combines history, biography, and myth. In the text, Lorde writes that "Zami" is "a Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers," Carriacou being the Caribbean island from which her mother immigrated.

Bone Black Memories of Childhood
bell hooks
Holt Mcdougal - 17.00€ -

Stitching together girlhood memories with the finest threads of innocence, feminist intellectual bell hooks presents a powerfully intimate account of growing up in the South.

"With the emotion of poetry, the narrative of a novel, and the truth of experience, bell hooks weaves a girlhood memoir you won't be able to put down--or forget. Bone Black takes us into the cave of self-creation."-- Gloria Steinem 

A memoir of ideas and perceptions, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood shows the unfolding of female creativity and one strong-spirited child's journey toward becoming a writer. She learns early on the roles women and men play in society, as well as the emotional vulnerability of children. She sheds new light on a society that beholds the joys of marriage for men and condemns anything more than silence for women. In this world, too, black is a woman's color--worn when earned--daughters and daddies are strangers under the same roof, and crying children are often given something to cry about. hooks finds comfort in solitude, good company in books. She also discovers, in the motionless body of misunderstanding, that writing is her most vital breath.

Partners – A Biography of Jerry Hunt
Stephen Housewright
Blank Forms - 17.00€ -

The life and work of Amercian experimental musician/composer/intermedia artist Jerry Hunt.

Jerry Hunt was among the most eccentric figures in the world of new music. A frenetic orator, occultist and engineering consultant, his works from the 1970s through the early '90s made use of readymade sculptures, medical technology, arcane talismans and all manner of homemade electronic implements to form confrontational recordings and enigmatic, powerful performances. Tracing Hunt's life across his home state's major cities to a self-built house in rural Van Zandt County, this memoir-cum-biography by Stephen Housewright, Hunt's partner of 35 years, offers illuminating depictions of Hunt's important installations and performances across North America and Europe.

Housewright narrates a lifetime spent together, beginning in high school as a closeted couple in an East Texas and ending with Hunt's battle with cancer and his eventual suicide, the subject of one of his most harrowing works of video art. This highly readable narrative contains many private correspondences with, and thrilling anecdotes about, Hunt's friends, family, and collaborators, including Joseph Celli, Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Galbreth, Karen Finley, James and Mary Fulkerson, Guy Klucevsek, Pauline Oliveros, Paul Panhuysen, Annea Lockwood, and the S.E.M. Ensemble.

Jerry Hunt (1943–93) was a Texas-born artist and musician with an astonishing mind and a mystifying practice. Hunt was a singular figure and one of the most radically unorthodox artists of his generation. His remarkable yet underknown work incorporated motion- and sensor-activated technologies, readymade props, eccentric choreographies, and sixteenth-century astrology into performance and composition. While he orbited avant-garde worlds in the United States and Europe, his personal life, spent largely on a ranch in rural Texas, remained elusive. 

Testo Junkie
Paul B. Preciado
Feminist Press - 27.00€ -  out of stock

What constitutes a real man or woman in the twenty-first century? Since birth control pills, erectile dysfunction remedies, and factory-made testosterone and estrogen were developed, biology is definitely no longer destiny.

In this penetrating analysis of gender, Paul B. Preciado shows the ways in which the synthesis of hormones since the 1950s has fundamentally changed how gender and sexual identity are formulated, and how the pharmaceutical and pornography industries are in the business of creating desire. This riveting continuation of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality also includes Preciado's diaristic account of his own use of testosterone every day for one year, and its mesmerizing impact on his body as well as his imagination.

After Kathy Acker
Chris Kraus
Semiotext(e) - 17.50€ -

The first authorized biography of postmodernism's literary hero, Kathy Acker.

Acker's life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in the late twentieth century. It is girls from which stories begin, she wrote in her last notebook. And like other lives, but unlike most fables, it was created through means both within and beyond her control.—from After Kathy Acker

Rich girl, street punk, lost girl and icon… scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker's legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. Twenty years after her death, Acker's legend has faded, making her writing more legible.In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged. At once forensic and intimate, After Kathy Acker traces the extreme discipline and literary strategies Acker used to develop her work, and the contradictions she longed to embody. Using exhaustive archival research and ongoing conversations with mutual colleagues and friends, Kraus charts Acker's movement through some of the late twentieth century's most significant artistic enterprises.

Appendix Project: Talks and Essays
Kate Zambreno
Semiotext(e) - 16.50€ -  out of stock

Inspired by the lectures of Roland Barthes, Anne Carson, and Jorge Luis Borges, Kate Zambreno's Appendix Project collects eleven talks and essays written in the course of the year following the publication of Book of Mutter, Zambreno's book on her mother that took her over a decade to write. These surprising and moving performances, underscored by the sleeplessness of the first year of her child's life, contain Zambreno's most original and dazzling thinking and writing to date.

In Appendix Project Zambreno thinks through the work of On Kawara, Roland Barthes, W.G. Sebald, Bhanu Kapil, Walter Benjamin, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Marguerite Duras, Marlene Dumas, Louise Bourgeois, Doris Salcedo, Jenny Holzer, and more.

James Baldwin: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations
James Baldwin
Melville House Publishing - 17.00€ -  out of stock

Never before available, the unexpurgated last interview with James Baldwin.

“I was not born to be what someone said I was. I was not born to be defined by someone else, but by myself, and myself only.” When, in the fall of 1987, the poet Quincy Troupe traveled to the south of France to interview James Baldwin, Baldwin’s brother David told him to ask Baldwin about everything—Baldwin was critically ill and David knew that this might be the writer’s last chance to speak at length about his life and work.

The result is one of the most eloquent and revelatory interviews of Baldwin’s career, a conversation that ranges widely over such topics as his childhood in Harlem, his close friendship with Miles Davis, his relationship with writers like Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, his years in France, and his ever-incisive thoughts on the history of race relations and the African-American experience.

Also collected here are significant interviews from other moments in Baldwin’s life, including an in-depth interview conducted by Studs Terkel shortly after the publication of Nobody Knows My Name. These interviews showcase, above all, Baldwin’s fearlessness and integrity as a writer, thinker, and individual, as well as the profound struggles he faced along the way.

The Waterfront Journals
David Wojnarowicz
Peninsula Press - 13.00€ -  out of stock

A visceral and carnivalesque mosaic of life at the fringes.

The Waterfront Journals is a road trip through the sensuous, perilous landscape of alternative America—a series of fictional monologues that ventriloquise the real people Wojnarowicz met on his travels while he was sleeping rough.

We meet these hustlers, runaways and dreamers in unassuming locations—in truck stops, bus stations and parks. Their stories are disturbing, often shocking; but they’re told with an honesty and a hallucinatory intensity that simply demands to be heard.

Published for the first time in the UK, this electrifying collection confirms that David Wojnarowicz was not only one of millennial America’s most necessary and visionary artists, but also among its most humane and urgent literary chroniclers.

Praise for The Waterfront Journals

A totally crucial book by one of the 20th century’s greatest artists and writers.—Maggie Nelson

Wojnarowicz proves that the difference between the rules of poverty and those of a dream is nothing more than smoke. The termination point of American life examined by the terminal American artist.—Jarett Kobek

Why Solange Matters
Stephanie Phillips
University of Texas Press - 19.00€ -  out of stock

Growing up in the shadow of her superstar sister, Solange Knowles became a pivotal musician in her own right. Defying an industry that attempted to bend her to its rigid image of a Black woman, Solange continually experimented with her sound and embarked on a metamorphosis in her art that continues to this day.

In Why Solange Matters, Stephanie Phillips chronicles the creative journey of an artist who became a beloved voice for the Black Lives Matter generation. A Black feminist punk musician herself, Phillips addresses not only the unpredictable trajectory of Solange Knowles's career but also how she and other Black women see themselves through the musician's repertoire. First, she traces Solange's progress through an inflexible industry, charting the artist's development up to 2016, when the release of her third album, A Seat at the Table, redefined her career. Then, with A Seat at the Table and 2019's When I Get Home, Phillips describes how Solange embraced activism, anger, Black womanhood, and intergenerational trauma to inform her remarkable art.

Why Solange Matters not only cements the place of its subject in the pantheon of world-changing twenty-first century musicians, it introduces its writer as an important new voice.

Nonbinary: A Memoir
Genesis P-Orridge
Abrams Press - 28.00€ -  out of stock

A revealing and beautifully open memoir from pioneering industrial music artist, visual artist, and transgender icon Genesis P-Orridge.

In this groundbreaking book spanning decades of artistic risk-taking, the inventor of "industrial music," founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, and world-renowned fine artist with COUM Transmissions Genesis P-Orridge (1950-2020) takes us on a journey searching for identity and their true self. It is the story of a life of creation and destruction, where Genesis P-Orridge reveals their unwillingness to be stuck, stuck in one place, in one genre, or in one gender. Nonbinary is Genesis's final work and is shared with hopes of being an inspiration to the newest generation of trailblazers and nonconformists.  

Nonbinary is the intimate story of Genesis's life, weaving the narrative of their history in COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle, and Psychic TV. It also covers growing up in World War II's fallout in Britain, contributing to the explosion of new music and radical art in the 1960s, and destroying visual and artistic norms throughout their entire life.  

In addition to being a captivating memoir of a singular artist and musician, Nonbinary is also an inside look at one of our most remarkable cultural lives that will be an inspiration to fans of industrial music, performance art, the occult, and a life in the arts.

Hardcover edition 2021.

Book of Mutter
Kate Zambreno
Semiotext(e) - 18.00€ -

A fragmented, lyrical essay on memory, identity, mourning, and the mother.

"Writing is how I attempt to repair myself, stitching back former selves, sentences. When I am brave enough I am never brave enough I unravel the tapestry of my life, my childhood." - from Book of Mutter

Composed over thirteen years, Kate Zambreno's Book of Mutter is a tender and disquieting meditation on the ability of writing, photography, and memory to embrace shadows while in the throes, and dead calm, of grief. Book of Mutter is both primal and sculpted, shaped by the author's searching, indexical impulse to inventory family apocrypha in the wake of her mother's death. The text spirals out into a fractured anatomy of melancholy that includes critical reflections on the likes of Roland Barthes, Louise Bourgeois, Henry Darger, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Peter Handke, and others. Zambreno has modeled the book's formless form on Bourgeois's Cells sculptures--at once channeling the volatility of autobiography, pain, and childhood, yet hemmed by a solemn sense of entering ritualistic or sacred space.

Neither memoir, essay, nor poetry, Book of Mutter is an uncategorizable text that draws upon a repertoire of genres to write into and against silence. It is a haunted text, an accumulative archive of myth and memory that seeks its own undoing, driven by crossed desires to resurrect and exorcise the past. Zambreno weaves a complex web of associations, relics, and references, elevating the prosaic scrapbook into a strange and intimate postmortem/postmodern theater.

The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore
Jean-Luc Hennig
Semiotext(e) - 16.50€ -  out of stock

The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal is the portrait of a true humanist who made a career out of compassion. Hailed as a virtuoso writer and a "revolutionary whore," Grisélidis Réal (1929-2005) chanced into prostitution at thirty-one after an upper-class upbringing in Switzerland. Serving clients from all walks of life, Réal applied the anarcho-Marxist dictum "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" to her profession, charging sliding-scale fees determined by her client's incomes and complexity of their sexual tastes.

Réal went on to become a militant champion of sexual freedom and prostitutes' rights. She has described prostitution as "an art, and a humanist science," noting that "the only authentic prostitution is that mastered by great technical artists...who practice this form of native craft with intelligence, respect, imagination, heart..."

This volume includes lengthy dialogues from 1979-1981 with Réal conducted by journalist and author Jean-Luc Henning, in which she eloquently discusses the theoretical implications of sex-positive whoring and relates her experiences both inside and outside the profession: from her lengthy love affair with the "Berber" to such "psychological" and "special" clients as the "moldy rhinoceros."

The "Little Black Book" that rounds out this book is drawn from the logs in which Réal kept track of her many clients, from "Pedro, hilarious fat Spaniard, devoted, simple, honest, fat peasant face, 70F" to "Pierre 8 (from Basel), blue eyes, fifties, slightly balding, cultivated, sweet-violent...licks my finger after I remove it from his anus...100-400F." It is a journal that not only chronicles Réal's working life, but offers a clinically direct, investigative sociological analysis of the sexual subcultures of her time.

Translated by Ariana Reines.

Everybody's Autobiography
Gertrude Stein
Exact Change - 17.50€ -

In 1937, Gertrude Stein wrote a sequel to The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, but this darker and more complex work was long misunderstood and neglected. An account of her experiences in the wake of having authored a bestseller, Everybody's Autobiography is as funny and engaging as The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, but it is also a meditation on the meaning of success and identity in America.

The Weight of the Earth
David Wojnarowicz
Semiotext(e) - 17.00€ -  out of stock

Audio journals that document Wojnarowicz's turbulent attempts to understand his anxieties and passions, and tracking his thoughts as they develop in real time.In these moments I hate language. I hate what words are like, I hate the idea of putting these preformed gestures on the tip of my tongue, or through my lips, or through the inside of my mouth, forming sounds to approximate something that's like a cyclone, or something that's like a flood, or something that's like a weather system that's out of control, that's dangerous, or alarming.... It just seems like sounds that have been uttered back and forth maybe now over centuries. And it always boils down to the same meaning within those sounds, unless you're more intense uttering them, or you precede them or accompany them with certain forms of violence.
--from The Weight of the Earth

Artist, writer, and activist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was an important figure in the downtown New York art scene. His art was preoccupied with sex, death, violence, and the limitations of language. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Wojnarowicz began keeping audio journals, returning to a practice he'd begun in his youth.The Weight of the Earth presents transcripts of these tapes, documenting Wojnarowicz's turbulent attempts to understand his anxieties and passions, and tracking his thoughts as they develop in real time.

In these taped diaries, Wojnarowicz talks about his frustrations with the art world, recounts his dreams, and describes his rage, fear, and confusion about his HIV diagnosis. Primarily spanning the years 1987 and 1989, recorded as Wojnarowicz took solitary road trips around the United States or ruminated in his New York loft, the audio journals are an intimate and affecting record of an artist facing death. By turns despairing, funny, exalted, and angry, this volume covers a period largely missing from Wojnarowicz's written journals, providing us with an essential new record of a singular American voice.

Published 2018

The Undying (paperback)
Anne Boyer
Picador - 18.00€ -  out of stock

Blending memoir with critique, an award-winning poet and essayist's devastating exploration of sickness and health, cancer and the cancer industry, in the modern world

A week after her 41st birthday, Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living payslip to payslip, the condition was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.

In The Undying - at once her harrowing memoir of survival, and a 21st-century Illness as Metaphor - Boyer draws on sources from ancient Roman dream diarists to cancer vloggers to explore the experience of illness. She investigates the quackeries, casualties and ecological costs of cancer under capitalism, and dives into the long line of women writing about their own illnesses and deaths, among them Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker and Susan Sontag.

Genre-bending, devastating and profoundly humane, The Undying is an unmissably insightful meditation on cancer, the cancer industry and the sicknesses and glories of contemporary life.

Winner of The Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction 2020; Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction 2020

Trans Girl Suicide Museum
Hannah Baer
Hesse Press - 13.00€ -  out of stock

One part ketamine spiral, one part confessional travelogue from the edge of gender, TGSM is a hallucinatory transmission on sex, identity, the internet, and the flickering wish not to exist in a given body at a given point in time. TGSM raises questions with which we have begun to negotiate broadly as a culture: what is actually happening to someone when they transition? how should we understand or describe such processes? what is the role of drugs, of hallucination, of imagination, in transition? is being a trans person in this moment in history, when the identity is ever more carefully traced [and tracked] by larger cultural forces, more liberated than before? 

Drawing its source material from chance encounters, wordless interactions in basements or bathrooms or hotel rooms, to archives of 20th century critical theory, sleepover secrets exchanged between old friends, rhetorical barbs deployed in the classrooms of elite universities, arguments on the phone with your parents across timezones, the nonverbal codes of high and low fashion, and scribbled notes on the backs of receipts for medicines you don't know how they work, TGSM is a morbid yet strangely hopeful meditation on the possibilities and meanings of gender variation in our time.

Hannah Baer runs the meme account @malefragility on instagram, and studies clinical psychology in new york city.

Fascination
Kevin Killian
Semiotext(e) - 17.00€ -  out of stock

Fascination brings together an early memoir, 'Bedrooms Have Windows' (1989) and a previously unpublished prose work, 'Bachelors Get Lonely', by the poet and novelist Kevin Killian, one of the founding members of the New Narrative movement. The two together depict the author's early years struggling to become a writer in the sexed-up, boozy, drug-ridden world of Long Island's North Shore in the 1970s. It concludes with Triangles in the Sand, a new, previously unpublished memoir of Killian's brief affair in the 1970s with the composer Arthur Russell. Fascination offers a moving and often funny view of the loneliness and desire that defined gay life of that era-a time in which Richard Nixon's resignation intersected with David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs'-from one of the leading voices in experimental gay writing of the past thirty years. "Move along the velvet rope," Killian writes in 'Bedrooms Have Windows', "run your shaky fingers past the lacquered Keith Haring graffito: 'You did not live in our time! Be Sorry!'"

Kevin Killian's Fascination comes to us with delay, yet arrives, thankfully, as though preserved within the flaps of an unsent, sealed, and searing correspondence, consummate and irreverent, having wasted no time. With their uncompromising wit and harnessed consciousness, Killian's memoirs propose that the project of remembrance, though dotted with loss, is also one of relentless recall for relentless pleasure. Not all of Killian's memories are his, but through him they become yours; others are rewound and replayed. Killian's invitation, though we wouldn't dare to rebuff it: "Remember me!"
-- Rachel Valinsky

Kevin Killian was a San Francisco-based poet, novelist, playwright, and art writer. Recent books include the poetry collections Tony Greene Era and Tweaky Village. He is the coauthor of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance. With Dodie Bellamy, he coedited Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative Writing, 1977-1997.

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