Long before Ann Coulter became the poster girl of modern conservatism, an equally strong-willed and outspoken lioness held sway over the GOP. The subject of Jennifer Burns' new biography Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford, $27.95) might not have done so well on cable TV, but she wrote bestsellers that any Beltway pundit would envy today. And Rand's novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still studied by devotees of her extremely libertarian, anti-herd philosophy. Her acolytes, Alan Greenspan famously among them, still occupy posts in think tanks and Republican staff offices. Yet the Russian Jewish immigrant (1905-1982) was no ally of the uptight Christian right; she was a movie-mad youth whose "Objectivist" credo owes much to Hollywood formula. (Inside each of us, you seem, is a great hero trying to escape the shackles of the mediocre society around us; it's like Plato's allegory of the cave crossed with The Matrix.) And Rand was also a cougar who didn't let marriage prevent her from pursuing and bedding younger men. Rowr! BRIAN MILLER
Wed., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2009 Note: This event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.