Biography & Memoir Booklists

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Featured Biography & Memoir Booklist

Banned Authors of the 20th Century

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A Short Autobiography
by F. Scott Fitzgerald Details
A self-portrait of a great writer. A Short Autobiography charts Fitzgerald's progression from exuberant and cocky with "What I think and Feel at 25", to mature and reflective with "One Hundred False Starts" and "The Death of My Father." Compiled and edited by Professor James West, this revealing collection of personal essays and articles reveals the beloved author in his own words.
Capote: A Biography
by Gerald Clarke Details
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with the man who authored In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's, as well as with nearly everyone who knew him, this absorbing, definitive biography follows Truman Capote from his eccentric childhood in Alabama to the heights of New York society. Featuring many photographs, this book also candidly recounts a gifted and celebrated writer's descent into the life of alcohol and drugs that would ultimately consume his bulldog spirit and staggering talent-but not before he'd hobnob with the likes of Grace Paley and Lee Radziwill, feud outrageously with Gore Vidal and Jacqueline Susann, and stage at New York's Plaza Hotel the sensational Black and White Ball.
Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage
by Susan Shillinglaw Details
Carol Henning Steinbeck, writer John Steinbeck's first wife, was his creative anchor, the inspiration for his great work of the 1930s, culminating in The Grapes of Wrath . Meeting at Lake Tahoe in 1928, their attachment was immediate, their personalities meshing in creative synergy. Carol was unconventional, artistic, and compelling. In the formative years of Steinbeck's career, living in San Francisco, Pacific Grove, Los Gatos, and Monterey, their Modernist circle included Ed Ricketts, Joseph Campbell, and Lincoln Steffens. In many ways Carol's story is all too familiar: a creative and intelligent woman subsumes her own life and work into that of her husband. Together, they brought forth one of the enduring novels of the 20th century.
Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961
by Paul Hendrickson Details
An illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will change the way he is perceived and understood. Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961--from his pinnacle until his suicide--Paul Hendrickson traces the writer's exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.
J. D. Salinger: The Escape Artist
by Thomas Beller Details
J.D. Salinger published his first story in The New Yorker at age twenty-nine. Three years later came The Catcher in The Rye , a novel that has sold more than sixty-five million copies and achieved mythic status since its publication in 1951. Yet we still know little about Salinger's personal life and less about his character. This was by design. In 1953, determined to escape media attention, Salinger fled to New Hampshire, where he would live until his death in 2010. Thomas Beller, a novelist who grew up in Manhattan, is the ideal guide to Salinger's world.
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Jack London: An American Life
by Earle Labor Details
A revelatory look at the life of the great American author--and how it shaped his most beloved works. Branded by shortsighted critics as little more than a hack who produced a couple of memorable dog stories, he left behind a voluminous literary legacy, much of it ripe for rediscovery. In Jack London: An American Life , the noted Jack London scholar Earle Labor explores the brilliant and complicated novelist lost behind the myth--at once a hard-living globe-trotter and a man alive with ideas, whose passion for seeking new worlds to explore never waned until the day he died. Returning London to his proper place in the American pantheon, Labor resurrects a major American novelist in his full fire and glory.
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
by Charles J Shields Details
The colorful life of the remarkable woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird --the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans. To Kill a Mockingbird , the twentieth-century's most widely read American novel, has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite the book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields has brought to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters--Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout--and who contributed to the success of her lifelong friend Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood . At the center of Shields's lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel. Highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart, this is an evocative portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
by John Lahr Details
Here, celebrated drama critic John Lahr gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the American theater and the nation's sense of itself. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds light on Williams's warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X Details
An autobiography of Malcolm X who rose from a life of crime to become the most dynamic leader of the civil rights movement.
Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual
by Lauren Coodley Details
Had Upton Sinclair not written a single book after The Jungle , he would still be famous. But Sinclair was a mere twenty-five years old when he wrote The Jungle , and over the next sixty-five years he wrote nearly eighty more books and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He was also a filmmaker, labor activist, women's rights advocate, and health pioneer on a grand scale. This new biography of Sinclair underscores his place in the American story as a social, political, and cultural force, a man who more than any other disrupted and documented his era in the name of social justice.Throughout, Lauren Coodley provides a new perspective for looking at Sinclair's prodigiously productive life. This biography will forever alter our picture of this complicated, unconventional, often controversial man whose whole life was dedicated to helping people understand how society was run, by whom, and for whom.
Updated 10/03/2014
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