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About the Author: John Jiambalvo

John was initially inspired to start writing at fifteen-years-old. He read the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales and “was astonished that someone could describe so much of his society so pointedly and in such few words.” This fascination led to writing his first works of prose and poetry, which were published when he was nineteen. Literature is, and continues to be, John’s first love, but intellectual history is a close second. He also enjoyed studying foreign languages as well, at one point being able to work in seven languages. His Master’s work focused on Renaissance and Seventeen Century English literature, and his doctoral studies, though interrupted before completion, concentrated on John Milton and his writings.

The late Professor John M. Wallace is one of the great influences in John’s life. While studying with Wallace at the University of Chicago, John learned how to apply rules for reading developed by classical authors and he was led to discover how seventeenth-century English authors applied these rules in order to create political meanings.

Like many of his generation, John’s political awakening began with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which led directly to the ramping up of the war in Vietnam. Decades later the events of 9/11 and the decision to invade Iraq, a country that had no role in the 9/11 attacks, reignited John’s political fire. These events had him asking “How my beloved country could stray so far from its political ideals?” Under any circumstances John would have found an outlet for his creativity. When the United States transformed into a nation he could not recognize, he applied his education in literature and history and sat down to write Smirk. Among his goals was to show his children that he saw the dangers of what was happening and that, however quixotically, he wasn’t going to remain on the sidelines, but instead was making known his opposition to his country becoming an empire.
The authors that are John’s role models set excellent examples for using satire and humor to affect and reflect the world they lived in. From Homer, Euripides, Virgil and Dante to Swift, Twain, Heller, Vonnegut and Grass, John’s heroes demonstrated how to treat evil in the world while championing compassion and rationality.

Literary works lambasting the powerful with humor and sarcasm are relatively rare. John recognizes that and appreciates the political satire found in other media. He also understands that a comprehensive political satire like Smirk demands much from its audience. However, he is confident that the novel and its soon-to-be-completed successor will find a following among the politically engaged who think outside the corporate media bubble and wish to promote the common good.

John has been married for over 40 years and has two adult children. He and his wife Jane live in the western suburbs of Chicago.

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Goodreads rating: 5.00

Paperback, Published in Nov 2011 by Createspace

ISBN10: 1466285087 | ISBN13: 9781466285088

Page count: 480

At the end of 2000, the Supreme Court effectively appointed a president who gave America something it had never had before: an administration headed largely by misfits and sociopaths. In Smirk: A Novel, author John Jiambalvo trains an unblinking gaze on a fictional administration not altogether distinct from the first administration of George W. Bush. His narrative is sure to enthrall and gall thoughtful readers. It may even inspire some to think again about the discrepancies between the ideals America proclaims and the acts undertaken allegedly on behalf of its citizens. We come to know the inner workings of President Smirk through narrator Bobby Bob Bob, or B3, a Texan and longtime friend and former college roommate. Having made a sizeable fortune by producing crude reality-based TV shows, B3 boasts wealth, looks, power, and the arrogance to match. As Special Assistant to the President for Media Relations, B3 is primed to push forward an agenda of compassionate conservatism that gives much to the rich and spin to everyone else. As Bobby charts the deeds and misdeeds of his friend and commander in chief, he wades conscience-deep into some of the most unsettling events of our time. From unapologetic tax cuts for the rich to starting two unfunded wars, Smirk and his cunning compatriots, including Vice President Dick Chummy and National Security Advisor Condolence Mash, weave a novel fabric from American ideals, even going so far as to substitute dollar signs for stars on the American flag. The administration's point of view is captured by the immortal words of Smirk's Secretary of Defense, Rusty Runt, who proclaims, "France, Germany, and Russia have forgotten that the way to lasting peace is through war. Has history taught them nothing?" In addition, Smirk and his gang of compassionate conservatives create an attack on public education and an unpaid for prescription drug benefit, the Patriot Act, and a context that encourages the excesses of Abu Ghraib. Along the way, Smirk even dazzles his constituents with a few well-warbled raps to further the agenda of the day. As Bobby is exposed to the really raw side of politics, such as the appropriation of the events of 9/11 for political purposes, he begins to entertain the unthinkable, questioning Smirk and alienating the advisors who swarm around him. With eviscerating wit and hilarious dead aim, John Jiambalvo's terrifying narrative asks for a place in the great tradition of American political satire, a tradition that springs from Mark Twain and is fully embodied in Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five. It also takes a cue from such political comedians as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Smirk: A Novel is a razor-sharp read that crosses back and forth from humor to horror and incites readers to ask, What is there about all this that seems to familiar?

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