This time two years ago, at a Seattle Arts & Lectures Christmas party, everyone was eating cheese and shrimp and drinking and pretending to be happy. The entire staff of Northwest Bookfest, which used to exist, had just been axed, and several members of Bookfest's board, who did the axing, were at the party, looking stricken and guilty and trying to mingle (unsuccessfully) with friends of the Bookfest staff members who had just lost their jobs. Basically, everyone wanted to vomit. I got cornered about seven times by people who just wanted to bitch. Gossip flowed freely. The booze was free. There were Christmas lights. God, that was a good party.

In the last six months, book-world gossip has been flowing a lot less freely. (The last good gossip I got was also Bookfest-related: a tip-off, back in May, that the board of Bookfest was about to vote, in an unpublicized meeting, on whether or not to disband. They voted 11-2 to disband. The Stranger broke the news the next day.) My question: Is there anything scandalous or fucked up happening at libraries, bookstores, literary organizations, and publishing companies right now in Seattle? Is anyone shitting on carpets? Any boards driving their organizations into the ground? Any executive directors need smacking around? Has anyone stolen anything, or lied, or said something stupid, or pissed someone off, or embarrassed themselves at the company party? (Thank God Seattle Arts & Lectures is about to throw another Christmas party, they're always secretly fascinating.) Lowly assistants and interns, tell me what you know. I'm bored. I'm desperate for gossip. I will gladly preserve your anonymity. Send tips to

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Oh, that contest from a few weeks back? The answer: Each of those sentences was the first sentence of a book now stocked in the QFC grocery stores on Capitol Hill. Both stores, as of recently, have expanded book sections. (I am obsessed with QFC.) The sentences were written by Alice Sebold, Tim Russert, Dr. Atkins, and others, and although no one got exactly the right answer (it was a stupid contest), Jonathan Raban did identify which book each sentence was from, so he's getting the prize: a $50 gift certificate to Bailey/Coy Books.

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