In the OUCH! department, Michael Dirda turns in an extremely entertaining review of Patrick French’s new biography of V.S. Naipaul, The World Is What It Is. One of the money quotes:
As Patrick French’s nuanced and generous but often dispiriting biography shows, there’s not much to like or praise about V.S. Naipaul as a human being. He starts life as a twerp, then fairly quickly becomes a jerk and ends up an old sourpuss. The best overall epithet for him is infantile — though one shouldn’t neglect the claims of such adjectives as whiney, narcissistic, insulting, needy, callous, impolite, cruel, vengeful, indecisive, miserly, exploitative, snobbish, sadistic, self-pitying and ungrateful. Of course, his is, to some extent, the modern artistic sensibility writ very, very large. But even our favorite monsters and divas — Picasso, Waugh, Callas, Brando — are never as smarmy and nasty as Naipaul. He can make a spoiled 3-year-old look mature.
Seeing as Naipaul’s still with us, and Dirda goes on to (let’s face it, aptly) characterize him as "increasingly blimpish, less a cultural scourge than a mean-spirited, intolerant crank," I’m not answering anything without a recognized caller ID for a few days if I’m the critic in question.