Vaudeville isn’t dead. But the traditional song-and-dance men, jugglers, animal acts, and stand-up comics have been displaced by jet-lagged authors, a far less entertaining bunch, who will read from their works in bookshops on the circuit, wherever at least eight potential customers can be found. On a typical week in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times Book Review (October 29, 1997) lists no less than eighty peddlers reading in various locations. These include Peter J. Harris, author of The Vampire Who Drinks Gospel Music; Mollie Katzen, who has written Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven; Terry Berland, who will discuss his very own Breaking Into Commercials; Jared Diamond, author of Why Sex Is Fun; and a highly suspect “writers’ workshop for teenage girls” in Beyond Baroque, out there on Venice Boulevard. To be fair, the same week there are also some better-known scribblers working the territory:...


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