Martha Bayne

  • Hard-Boiled

    James Ellroy is nothing if not self-aware. Throughout his career, the pulp-crime master has spared himself no quarter, cultivating an alarmingly frank public persona as a creep and a curmudgeon, a speed freak and shoplifter–turned–snarling and sober sexual obsessive. In his new memoir, The Hilliker Curse, he unpacks the latter with the profane detail that is his stock-in-trade, crafting a lean, mean portrait of the artist as a young Peeping Tom—and the old, paranoid perv he grows into.

    The subtitle of this latest self-dissection, My Pursuit of Women, lays bare Ellroy’s agenda. The Hilliker of

  • Pooling Resources

    A noun followed by a colon and a claim to greatness—whether Coal: A Human History or Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, it’s a formula with proven publishing legs. As these smartly packaged microhistories train their writers’ full powers of research and analysis on undervalued or overlooked topics, they can, in skilled hands, elevate humble subjects to glorious heights—and argue convincingly for their importance on the world stage. However, as deployed in Steven Solomon’s exhaustive new Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization, the strategy of the close