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December Book Events: "Is the Book Dead? High Tech and the Written Word," Michael Medved, Norman Podhoretz, Dave Eggers, San Francisco Panorama, Writers with Drinks at the Make-Out Room

Thursday, Dec. 3
If panel discussions aren't dead, then neither are books, dammit. Consider "Is the Book Dead? High Tech and the Written Word," a panel discussion, which caps the biannual members' meeting at the Mechanics' Institute Library tonight. Jew Boy author Alan Kaufman moderates, with local literati panelists including Lemony Snicket alter ego Daniel Handler; blogger, author, and Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg; Techsploitationeer Annalee Newitz; Cleis Press publisher Brenda Knight; McSweeney's publisher Oscar Villalon; and San Francisco Chronicle books editor John McMurtrie. 6:30 p.m., free for members, $12 for nonmembers. 57 Post (at Market), 393-0101 or www.milibrary.org.

Monday, Dec. 7
Michael Medved's new book is called The Five Big Lies About American Business: Combating Smears Against the Free Market Economy. On its cover, the C in "American" is a cents symbol, and the second-to-last S in "Business" is a dollar sign. With similar ingenuity, here's what he says the lies are. 1) Capitalism is evil and therefore becoming extinct. 2) Rich people getting richer equals poor people getting poorer. 3) Corporate bosses are overpaid and corrupt. 4) The smaller the business, the more ethical it will be. 5) Government is fairer and more trustworthy than business. So that's that. Meanwhile, Norman Podhoretz' recent book is called Why Are Jews Liberals? I'm afraid to know what's on its cover. Anyway, can you imagine what a public conversation between these two guys would be like? Well, you don't have to imagine, because they'll be doing it for real this evening at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio). 8 p.m., $10-$18; 292-1200 or www.jccsf.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 8
It is entirely, alarmingly possible that in the time it takes you to read this paragraph, Dave Eggers will have conceived, drafted, and completed a new writing project of major scale and ambition. Wow, who does this guy think he is, Stephen King? No, of course not: Eggers has more range than King. For instance, his latest works include Zeitoun, a highly personalized account of post-Katrina New Orleans; and The Wild Things, a loose transliteration of the Maurice Sendak storybook recently adapted into a movie by Eggers with director Spike Jonze. Even if Eggers wrote The Wild Things only so he'd have a good excuse to publish a book (in collectors' edition) with a furry cover, it's still impressive. You can ask him about this and other things at BookShop West Portal, 80 West Portal (at Vicente). 1 p.m, free; 564-8080 or www.bookshopwestportal.com.  

Tuesday, Dec. 8
Oh, and speaking of high tech and the written word, and of Dave Eggers and his range, but no longer of Michael Medved and Norman Podhoretz: Today is also the day that McSweeney's officially publishes its 33rd issue, in the form of a much-anticipated, one-time-only local newspaper, the San Francisco Panorama ($16). Will the city come to a complete standstill as inquiring minds everywhere stop to soak in 300-plus pages of snazzily designed, literarily inclined journalism from dozens of local and far-flung contributors? With newspapers, like books, under presumed threat of extinction, this might be a defining moment in local literary history. Or at least a loud rallying cry. www.mcsweeneys.net.

Saturday, Dec. 12
Writers. Drinks. Sex. Culture. These are things we like. One reason we like them is that they may be combined in various ways. For example: Writers with Drinks, the regular reading series and/or spoken-word variety show at the Make-Out Room that understands author readings in bookstores can be kind of dull sometimes, but is too kindhearted and inclusion-minded to say so directly, and therefore just goes ahead and transplants such events into a bar instead. This time around, the drinking scribes will be Mark Coggins (The Big Wake-Up), Dan Fante (Mooch), Seanan McGuire (Rosemary and Rue), Joshua Mohr (Some Things that Meant the World to Me), and Mollena Williams (Perverted Negress). Even if you don't know who all of these authors are, their titles alone should portend fruitful combination — and an evening that'll be anything but dull. Proceeds go to the Center for Sex and Culture. The Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Bartlett). 7 p.m., $3-$5; 647-2888 or www.makeoutroom.com.

 
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