My Recent Radio Interview

Great interview with me on Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden this past Sunday! We discussed a whole range of topics, including veganism (natch), animal rights and liberation, the inherent racism of the American “justice” system, my time in prison, the vile Monsanto corporation, and my debut novel ORANGE RAIN, from which I read a short but powerful excerpt. Available for listening here:

http://www.goveganradio.com/2014/09/10/07-september-2014/

Learn more about ORANGE RAIN here:

My Debut Novel Now Available in Paperback!

Click here to purchase in paperback or e-book via Amazon!

 

A legless veteran and his Vietnamese girlfriend embark on a cross-country journey through the dark heart of mid-1980s America to exact revenge on the loathsome Monsanto Corporation, whose Agent Orange decimated both their lives.

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From the illicit pharmaceutical underworld of San Francisco’s Tenderloin to the cocaine-dusted film set of amputee porn in booming Las Vegas; from the urban-industrial hideout of vegan militant black revolutionaries to a botched backyard lynching by Texas frat boys and the liberation of their chained, abused pit bull. . . Orange Rain hurtles from one stunning scene to the next, swaying between the hilarious and the hideous. Its humor is darker than the Marlboro Man’s coffee (and his lung cancer). A wildly twisted novel, but also one with undeniable heart and compassion. It is an ode to humans’ ability to endure in the face of horrific suffering. A celebration of feminine strength and spirit. You’ve likely never read anything quite like it.
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“The eco-warriors next door embark on a lightning round of vigilante justice. Orange Rain is what happens when the Monkey Wrench Gang goes Death Wish and moves from the scrubland to the streets. Literature that incites.” -Peter Young, former ALF prisoner, chief editor at Animal Liberation Frontline

Thanks to my wonderful, egalitarian, vegan-owned, Eco-conscious publisher Trebol Press for taking this on! www.TrebolPress.com

“Orange Rain is not a politically correct novel—which is why it is so appealing . . . [the main] character has a clear revenge mission he never wavers from. Revenge is exacted on more than one oppressor, including two different rapists . . . [It's] the type of book that could never be published by a mainstream publisher, as they would be too afraid to touch the taboo subjects it contains. Jan Smitowicz’s first novel . . . is fast-moving, fun to read, and isn’t the same old tired thing we see coming from traditional publishers.” -Kimberly Steele, author of Forever Fifteen and other novels

“A compelling, fast-paced adventure through some of society’s most intriguing subcultures . . . filled with incisive political commentary. This timely and important novel is a must read for anyone concerned about the state of the planet, or simply looking for a good read.” -Camille Marino, former political prisoner, founder of Negotiation is Over and Eleventh Hour for Animals

“An exciting new author with a new voice to bring to the world of fiction. The literary world is in desperate need of more writers like him.” Veronica Rosas, playwright

“Pynchon in Public” Day–Before

Thursday, May 8 (tomorrow, from my current chrono-location) is the fourth annual Pynchon in Public Day, a world non-event of culture-jamming with anything related to the madman-genius books of iconic postmodernist writer Thomas Pynchon–a recluse who makes J.D. Salinger like a media whore. One of the only known pictures of him is a dorky bucktoothed high school yearbook photo:

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Click the website link above for explanations, ideas, examples. My girlfriend and I will be going by names of characters in his books–Pugnax (dog who can read, and communicate with humans with barks) and Commander Randolph St. Cosmo (head of the hydrogen airship Inconvenience), respectively; our dog will be referred to as Mouffette, French for “skunk”, and a papillon dog (all names from Against the Day).

We will also happen to already that day be staying in San Francisco, location of Oedipa Maas’s day of Tristero-conspiracy findings in The Crying of Lot 49. She sees a symbol drawn all over the city, dozens of times–the muted Post horn, symbol of W.A.S.T.E. (We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire):

lot 49 trumpet

I have a feeling we, too, will be coming across many of these symbols drawn/chalked in various locations (photographic evidence possibly forthcoming). We will also be reading his books “unashamedly on trains”.

Happy (Mute Horn) Posting!

Review: RANT by Chuck Palahniuk

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I enjoyed this book quite a lot more than several of Chuck’s other books. I’ve read seven of them now, and at first I was really into him (partially b/c my then-girlfriend was obsessed with him), but then I grew to dislike him quite a lot. Rant has instilled a shred of faith that some of his other books might be worth my time.

One problem I have with Palahniuk is the very idiosyncrasy that so many people love. To me it comes off as being way too forced, like he’s trying too hard to have a more distinctive voice instead of actually having a unique voice. Most notably when he jumbles syntax: stuff like, “The car, we all piled in.” I don’t like it. Not when he does it. David Foster Wallace pulls it off like a magician . . . Thomas Pynchon, Stephen King . . . it sounds natural when they do it, but forced when Palahniuk does. My biggest problem with his books, though, is that I think he’s not very good at plotting stories. The “back cover”-type material sounds fascinating on every single one of his books, but the actual plots often fail to deliver on the intrigue fostered by their premises.

With Rant, though, I think he overcame those prior deficits. I love how the story’s told in the form of an oral history, composed of “anecdotes” from dozens of extremely varied personalities who were somehow involved in the life of the subject—titular character Buster “Rant” Casey. This storytelling form aids in sort of facilitating Chuck’s syntactical and form-based idiosyncrasies. So instead of detracting from the novel, with this one they actually enhance the desired effect. Overall, the writing is sleek and efficient; the plot unfolds very organically and rather brilliantly, as little clues and details are dropped piece by piece from different character testimony and perspectives. It’s also one of Chuck’s more interesting plots, made even better by the fact that Rant manages to avoid (to a large degree) some of his pitfalls. I did feel the ending was anti-climactic. However, this time I think it was intentional—much in the way that Wallace’s masterpiece Infinite Jest has no real climax, but rather directs and suggests a cohesive ending that the reader has to imagine for herself—and I think, to my surprise, Palahniuk managed to pull it off. A good yarn, fascinating premises and follow-throughs thereon, and taut, compelling prose make it a book worth reading.

Score: 65/100

A Dream Come True

EEEEEEEEEK!! One week ago I officially got OFF PAROLE. I already had my stuff all packed up in my car, so I picked up Batty from her foster a couple miles away and hit the road at 6:30pm. Drove aaaaaaall the way through the night and arrived at my amazing girlfriend Andria‘s work at just after 5am. L.A. to Arcata, CA, Humboldt County, almost 700 miles, in a straight shot through the night.

I’ve been dreaming of living in Humboldt since literally the FIRST DAY I spent here, back in 2007. Little matters of prison and parole and other things got in the way, but I FINALLY MADE IT HAPPEN! Now I’m living literally IN the redwood forest, renting a nice big room on 2 acres of property. Thought I’d have to settle and live in one of the cities first, but NOPE! My darling lady found me this sweet place and I’m absolutely LOVING it up here. This is where I belong, no question. (FFS, get this–they sell delicious vegan cake-things at the COUNTER of even mega-corporate *gas stations* like Chevron!!) Also, I happen to be living about two miles from Headwaters Forest, which was the focal point of the battle to save old-growth redwoods–one of the only UNTOUCHED, virgin old-growth redwood forests left (for the best thing you could possibly read to learn about Headwaters, check out THIS BOOK).

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This place is truly magickal, in countless different ways. No other place like it in the country, and maybe even the planet. And I’m here. I did it. And it’s EVEN BETTER than I’d hoped. The place of my dreams, with the woman of my dreams. I don’t think life in Amerika is ever gonna stop ravaging my soul, but at least now I’m away from the concrete-wasteland nightmare of HelL.A./SoCal. The last 4.5 years have been a seemingly endless series of broken dreams, heartbreaking events and scenarios, and the ceaseless soul-crushing Bad Trip of BureaucraZy’s mad savagery. Dare I hope that it’s FINALLY over? If nothing else, I’m where I belong, with the person I belong (and with whom I’m madly, overwhelmingly in love)–now at least I have a solid foundation to build on.

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I so needed this. I deserve this. I’ve worked so hard and waited so long for this. It’s here, I’M here, and I still can’t believe it. Humboldt, Andria, redwoods . . . THIS. This.

*FREE PROMO!* My Revenge Novel “Orange Rain”, Now Revised and Including Bonus Materials!

Orange Rain has been revamped: now professionally edited, with a new cover and bonus materials at the end!

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To celebrate this, I’m offering the book for FREE DOWNLOAD starting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1 and ending Saturday, April 5, 2014!! After that, it will be available for the 50% reduced price of $2.99 for another five days!
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Click here to download ORANGE RAIN from Amazon.

 

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Max Wright is homicidally enraged with people who wrecked his life—people he has never met or even seen. The Vietnam War left him poisoned and cancer-ridden from the spraying of Agent Orange, legless, and addicted to heroin, forced to sell drugs to support his habit and suppress his pain. Now he’s kicked heroin, and burns for revenge on the loathsome corporation that manufactured Agent Orange.

With his Vietnamese ex-prostitute girlfriend Mai Linh, Max hitchhikes across mid-1980s America. Destination: Florida, where a university medical clinic is performing cutting-edge prosthetic leg implants. Only when he is able-bodied, Max reasons, can he attempt an attack on the corporation that ravaged his body, and decimated Mai Linh’s life. Hot on Max and Mai’s trail is Victor Wattana, the “Oriental Massage Parlor” owner whose money they stole and penis they snapped in half following a rape attempt.

From the illicit pharmaceutical underworld of San Francisco’s Tenderloin to the cocaine-dusted film set of amputee porn in booming Las Vegas, from the urban-industrial hideout of militant black revolutionaries to a botched backyard lynching by Texas frat boys, Orange Rain hurtles from one stunning scene to the next. It sways between the hilarious and the hideous, exploring myriad dark places in America where the two intersect. It is an ode to humans’ ability to endure in the face of horrific cruelty and suffering. A celebration of feminine strength and spirit.

 

NOTE: If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the free Kindle app and read it on your phone or computer!

A Huey helicopter unleashing the “orange rain” on Vietnam.

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT ORANGE RAIN:

Jan Smitowicz is the Hunter S. Thompson for a new generation, and ‘Orange Rain’ is every inch the mind-bending ride you would expect from such an author. I guarantee you’ve never come across a novel like this before. The pace is fast and the the language is both inventive and obscene . . . If you long for a world where despicable behavior has immediate and devastating consequences, Mr. Smitowicz has your order up.”
-A.F.

“I’m always up for a plot in which the little guy fights back against the big guy. And you can’t get bigger than Monsanto. Go, Max!…Rapists getting beaten. Poisoners getting poisoned. Dogs getting liberated. That kind of justice is always so cathartic. I don’t read enough of it.”  -J.C.

Orange Rain is fast-paced and exciting . . . a tale of pure beauty.”
-M.N.

“You must read this, my peeps. You must relish the dark humor, the excitement, predicaments, the shredding of evil entities, the endings that make the world go ’round. I don’t care how the academics describe this book – I’m doing it my way: you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be singing from rooftops. Oh, yes you will!”
-A.L.

A rollicking adventure in which a search for legs and revenge leads to a cross-country trip jam-packed with thrills, chills, and seat-of-the-pants escapes…Exhilarating, thought-provoking, and relevant, Orange Rain is worth your time!”
-J.

“I loved this book! I literally couldn’t put it down. It explores some really serious topics (veterans and PTSD, chemicals and the environment, fat corporate America) in a fairly dark but wildly funny twisted way that engaged me from the first page.”
-R.S.

Walking Dead Season Finale: Who’s REALLY the “Walking Dead”?

The Walking Dead’s season four finale has now thematically coalesced into something they’ve been building, really, the entire series, but they’ve taken it to the next level with this season. The thematic buildup can be expressed in one simple sentence: The Walking Dead is now attempting to reverse the moral status of the living and the dead.

AMC-Accidentally-Spoils-The-Walking-Dead-Season-2-Finale

We’ve seen it since the beginning—Shane’s violent actions against the living, and ultimately his attempt to murder Rick; random pillagers; The Governor’s being more savage, ruthless, and efficient a killer than any Walker, and so on. But in season four, the lines have been blurred even further, escalating every episode, until the transformation is seemingly finalized in the last episode. Here’s what it comes down to: the Walkers have no choice. Their humanity is destroyed, and they’re reduced to base level flesh-devouring automatons. But those who haven’t “turned,” the living—they still have the ability to empathize, to comfort and aide one another, to offer succor and forgiveness and compassion. But surviving so long and seeing so much brutality and death and misery, it’s turned many of the characters into creatures far more evil than the helpless Dead. Several of the starkest examples of this: (1) Lizzy, who almost suffocated baby Judith, who killed and dissected nonhuman animals “for fun,” and who finally killed her own sister because she was unable to see the great distinction between the living and dead (relevant here is how Carol was the one to kill Lizzy—Carol, who’s changed perhaps more than anyone, who’s justified ruthless behavior in the name of survival time and again; using ruthless violence to survive, just like the Walkers); (2) The “Claim Gang,” essentially a group of post-apocalyptic pirates, plundering, beating and even killing their own members who digress too far from their stated rules. How fitting that Rick’s “seismic shift,” as the actor who portrays him described it, comes during his attempt to overcome that very Claim Gang. In that one scene, there are at least three things that flip the script, as it were, between what we’ve come to expect from humans and Walkers—Daryl kills one of the men by stomp-crushing his skull, which was prior to that only done to Walkers; Rick also kills one of the Gang members in a way we usually only associate with the killing of Walkers, stabbing his son’s attacker over and over and over; and then, of course, the shocking moment when Rick bites out the jugular of his own captor, the gang leader Joe—utilizing a killing method we’ve seen literally dozens of times from Walkers.

Many of the characters are shown trying to come to terms with their dwindling humanity. Michonne and Carl both call themselves “monsters,” a term that could obviously be applied to the Walkers. Carol finally admits to Tyrese that she was the one who killed and burned the two bodies back at the prison. Others—most notably Rick—simply embrace a cutthroat, killer attitude. He will protect his son and his friends, at the expense of any shred of humanity he might have left for those outside that circle.

In the end, what we’re left with at Terminus is one dramatic, burning question: Just who exactly does the show’s title refer to? Is it the zombies who are “the walking dead,” or is it actually the living survivors? I can only guess that this question will only become more blurred, more difficult, next season. And I can’t wait.

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