Although Authors à la Carte was among the last events in the Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival, it was the first one I attended. The Festival guide promised literary gossip in addition to readings by Paul Quarrington, Monique Proulx, John Gray, Olive Senior, Rudy Wiebe and Carmel Bird. However, despite host Bill Richardson's urging, none of the readers would part with so much as an anecdote. Some coy overtures were made, names were dropped, but for the most part, the chatter consisted of Monique Proulx's needless apology for delivering a heavily accented reading, Olive Senior's recounting of a clever story sent to her by an eleven-year-old girl and Carmel Bird's admonishments when we laughed at the wrong parts. I shared brunch and a table with an assortment of seasoned Festival goers who recognized each other from other events and who resumed discussions from other days. I never found out who they had heard, but the topic of conversation was construction and the building industry. Once the readings began, the discussion shifted from drywall to Western movies, tropical fruit, rats and other pleasantly unrelated miscellanea in keeping with the à la carte theme.