The inside scoop on the book world

CLASH OF THE TITANS Why can’t upper-crust novelists just get along? The rift between Booker Prize winner V.S. Naipaul and literary nomad Paul Theroux (The Mosquito Coast) is the latest in a series of brutal, mostly British bouts that include Martin Amis dissing Julian Barnes in 1995 and John le Carré (”pompous ass”) exchanging choice words with Salman Rushdie (”rabid ayatollah”) last year. Advance peeks at Sir Vidia’s Shadow (Houghton Mifflin, due in October), Theroux’s unsparing memoir of his mentor, are cleaving London literati into indignant camps. The book is so harsh that it has to be trimmed for British publication to accommodate the country’s libel laws, but its author denies he’s the aggrieved party in the relationship. ”I’ve read I, Tina,” says Theroux. ”I’m not Tina, and he’s not Ike — except in some senses he is Ike. That’s the funny thing. He’s explosive, odd, irrational at times. Naturally I hope he’ll read it.” As for Naipaul, he’s giving Theroux — and EW — the silent treatment.

COOKING UP A STORM Among the nasty food fights that have brewed over the much-trumpeted latest edition of The Joy of Cooking is one instigated by the Institute of Food Technology. Writing in the trade mag Food Technology, consumer researcher and IFT member Christine M. Bruhn accused the Joy revision of offering ”the full range of contemporary counterculture myths” (the book favors, for example, organic produce and free-range chicken) and claimed that the cookbook was riddled with confusing advice and errors. However, Bruhn’s article contains some confusion of its own — for example, citing Plume, not Scribner, as the new Joy‘s publisher. ”If you’re going to attack people in the name of science, my God, get your facts straight,” says Maria Guarnaschelli, Joy‘s editor. Bruhn could not be reached for comment.