Oh, no. Say it isn't so! Oprah's discontinuing her book club!

This is bad news, for which I blame Jonathan Franzen. Then again, these days I'm prone to blame anything bad in the publishing world on Jonathan Franzen. But I think Oprah felt burned by that whole imbroglio. I can imagine her saying, "Hey, I'm doing writers a favor, and instead of being thanked I'm being bashed for my lowbrow tastes. Who needs that?"

So what's it mean? It means that first-time authors are losing their main chance of ever seeing their books make it into the upper echelons of the best-seller list to sit cheek and jowl with perennials like Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy and Stephen King.

It means that literary authors are losing one of their biggest chances of ever reaching a mainstream audience. It means, sadly, that GOOD IN BED will never, ever be an Oprah pick....which I'd sort of figured out, anyhow, seeing as how there isn't any poverty, illiteracy, plagues, floods, spousal abuse or incest in its pages (see, there I go again....another oughta-be-grateful writer sniping at Oprah's taste for affliction fiction.)

And Oprah's rationale is a guarantee that novelists nationwide are going to start their weekend on a down note. "It has become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share," Winfrey said in a statement.


Plus which I've acquired a lovely spring cold, just in time for the start of the out-of-town book tour dates. This is Jonathan Franzen's fault, too. I just haven't figured out how yet.

So please come see me in Cambridge on Sunday and Cleveland on Monday. I won't sneeze on you. I promise!