Real issues should underpin every tale. Beverly Gologorsky writes about the women's and anti-war movements of the '60s and '70s, which brought together and divided her and a dauntless activist named Jessica.

Back up. OK. I went to a reading at the KGB bar this evening hosted by Suzanne Dottino--who does a great job managing and moving along the event so you don't feel like digging your nails into your palm until it bleeds. The reading honored the new anthology of essays about women's friendships, The Friend Who Got Away.

Gologorsky structured and paced her piece well, keeping you in suspense about the outcome of the friendship and the march-organizing that corrupted it. But structure and pacing themselves don't good writing make. I'm always amazed by how competence can mask banality. Why do I go to so many readings of finely efficient writers who have nothing to say?

Lydia Millet has a good deal to say. She read about beauty enthralling and yet unnerving her. She finds "something inhuman in the lack of blemish." I enjoyed her precise writing but wondered if she equated fastidiousness and virtue.