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Biography & autobiography

In the Darkroom

A compelling, exhausting, messy and provocative book, In the Darkroom seems like especially pertinent reading in these, our own dark times, when questions of identity keep coming to the fore, as matters of life and death.

Proxies: Essays Near Knowing

Proxies manages not just to answer How do you find yourself? for Blanchfield via this recessive, implicitly aerial view, but also to connect the reader to the essayist and maybe to make a likeness from that contact, to create a community.

The Narrow Door

The Narrow Door is also a memoir about what things writers choose to write down, and what things are better left to the analogs of memory and life.

Family History of Fear: A Memoir

Family History of Fear is not only a memoir or work of restorative personal history. It’s an act of un-erasure. Tracing her bloodlines of fear, secrecy and self-loathing, she uncovers a history of survival and solidarity, of profound love.

Joe Gould's Teeth

Lepore’s forte isn’t lyricism. She sometimes writes as if she’s assembling an outline — albeit a footnoted one. Yet she ends up with more to get your teeth into.

The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics

Hickenlooper draws an analogy between brewing and politics (the activist as yeast, the political leader as brewer), but however apt that metaphor, it’s difficult to imagine a more unusual preparation for public life than the one ably recounted here.

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

A trademark of Teffi’s writing had always been her ability to describe the absurd as though it were the ordinary.

Beer Money

“Beer Money” sidesteps a comprehensive account of business mismanagement in favor of intimate family vignettes.

White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World

It is only toward the end of “White Sands” that you are reminded, with a terrific jolt, of why impermanence and decay are of special urgency to Mr. Dyer at this particular moment.

Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations

“Love That Boy” is full of feeling, but refreshingly free of the self-pitying histrionics, dehumanizing stereotypes of disability and eagerness to embrace quack cures that typified a generation of books like Jenny McCarthy’s “Louder Than Words.”

The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones

While the book is stuffed with insights like that, too often Cohen explains how he visited a site of interest or interviewed someone who was once close to the Stones, only to toss away what he found there. Like Richards, he’d much rather just riff.

Beer Money

How does a family dynasty die? In her image-rich memoir, “Beer Money,” Frances Stroh asks the question with heroic honesty, from the inside.

Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power

Despite Landler’s contention that Clinton and Obama exemplify a grand debate, his book inadvertently suggests that the surprising thing isn’t that they had occasional disputes. It’s that they worked together as well as they did.

Beer Money

Beer Money reflects a quite honest, non-self-indulgent telling of the facts of the author’s family life.

The Bridge Ladies

Because Lerner's focus is wider and because her mother, Roz, is still very much alive and "with it," this memoir is messier, more open-ended than its predecessors.

Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story

The observation is reminiscent of one of Tim O’Brien’s saddest aphorisms about combat from “The Things They Carried”: “In the end, really, there’s nothing much to say about a true war story, except maybe ‘Oh.’”

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams

Louisa Catherine’s long years of living in the shadow of her husband’s career choices and of the Adams dynasty diminished her own image.

My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir

It’s a fascinating story, written by a truly gifted author—one that didn’t fall too far from the family tree.

Heart of Glass: A Memoir

Is it too neat? Is it rushed? Is it strange that a celebrity, already inhabiting a persona, decides to use a fairy tale as the device that knits her book together? Hard to say.