One Outlet Stopped Working
If the nearby working outlets are on the same circuit, I'd suspect that a wire's worked its way loose. (Don't forget that if there is a loose wire, it might be on another outlet--the one that feeds the non-working one.)
Oh, and: this outlet wouldn't be "downstream" from a GFCI, would it? (unlikely in a living room...but worth a look to see if a GFCI has tripped.)
Don't forget to shut off the power in case you decide to check it out.
[This message has been edited by k2 (edited December 26, 2003).]
The reason it does not interrupt the entire circuit is that electrical code requires that each outlet be fed by "pigtails," and not be directly wired to the circuit. A pigtail is a short wire that connects to the line splice inside the junction box. As such, for each splice in a simple, single outlet box in the middle of a circuit run, there will be three wires going into each wire nut: the (1) incoming and (2) outgoing wires for the circuit (which maintain the circuit even if something goes wrong with the outlet), and (3) the pigtail (which goes to the outlet). For a simple outlet, there will be three wire nuts: one hot, one neutral, and one ground.
That way, if something goes wrong with the outlet (as happened here), it only affects that outlet, not the entire circuit.
[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited December 27, 2003).]