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Moo by Jane Smiley
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Moo (1995)

by Jane Smiley

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2,051493,249 (3.52)97
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    Straight Man by Richard Russo (wademlee)
    wademlee: Academic satire, humorous & outrageous. Those in Academe will recognize themselves or their colleagues.
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    Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (allenmichie)
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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Moo was one of those books that I was so sure I would enjoy that I was really looking forward to reading it. I thought that since I have been in the field of higher education as lecturer/professor for the last 17 years and before that as a college student and graduate student, I would find it insightful, funny, and entertaining.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I so could not wait to finish the book not because I was enjoying, but because I simply wanted to be done with it. Ironically, I didn't connect with any of the characters; they irritated me. And I found that there were so many characters that I often couldn't keep them straight, especially the four girls sharing a room that Smiley spent some time introducing us to and delving into their insecurities. It wasn't just those girls though; it was even the faculty members that I couldn't keep straight, so I found myself flipping back through the book and re-reading pages where the characters were introduced just to straighten them out. After doing that several times, I began writing the characters down to keep them straight. But even that didn't help!

Perhaps it was because some of the characters were so bland that they simply weren't memorable.

I was expecting quirky and neurotic characters; after all, many a mid-western college is filled with just those kinds of characters. I should know, I've been colleagues with enough of them. (I'm pretty sure I might have been labeled as quirky and perhaps even neurotic by some of my fellow colleagues, but that is another story altogether.)

I found myself wanted to simply quit reading, but I plowed on and FINALLY finished.

So, why doesn't the book have a lower star rating?

Well, frankly, the writing was good. Some of Smiley's descriptions of small-town college life were spot on, especially here laying out of the financial finagling that can occur with financing and budget cuts and trying to get grand monies. She also had some great descriptions of faculty meetings and the machinations that occur not only within the meetings but behind the scenes as everyone positions for power (i.e. tenure).

I just wish the book had been more engaging as a whole. If found myself wondering how I would write this review because as I sat down to write it, I found myself thinking "so, what exactly was that book really about" because not too much of it stuck with me in the end.
( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 17, 2016 |
Moo was one of those books that I was so sure I would enjoy that I was really looking forward to reading it. I thought that since I have been in the field of higher education as lecturer/professor for the last 17 years and before that as a college student and graduate student, I would find it insightful, funny, and entertaining.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I so could not wait to finish the book not because I was enjoying, but because I simply wanted to be done with it. Ironically, I didn't connect with any of the characters; they irritated me. And I found that there were so many characters that I often couldn't keep them straight, especially the four girls sharing a room that Smiley spent some time introducing us to and delving into their insecurities. It wasn't just those girls though; it was even the faculty members that I couldn't keep straight, so I found myself flipping back through the book and re-reading pages where the characters were introduced just to straighten them out. After doing that several times, I began writing the characters down to keep them straight. But even that didn't help!

Perhaps it was because some of the characters were so bland that they simply weren't memorable.

I was expecting quirky and neurotic characters; after all, many a mid-western college is filled with just those kinds of characters. I should know, I've been colleagues with enough of them. (I'm pretty sure I might have been labeled as quirky and perhaps even neurotic by some of my fellow colleagues, but that is another story altogether.)

I found myself wanted to simply quit reading, but I plowed on and FINALLY finished.

So, why doesn't the book have a lower star rating?

Well, frankly, the writing was good. Some of Smiley's descriptions of small-town college life were spot on, especially here laying out of the financial finagling that can occur with financing and budget cuts and trying to get grand monies. She also had some great descriptions of faculty meetings and the machinations that occur not only within the meetings but behind the scenes as everyone positions for power (i.e. tenure).

I just wish the book had been more engaging as a whole. If found myself wondering how I would write this review because as I sat down to write it, I found myself thinking "so, what exactly was that book really about" because not too much of it stuck with me in the end.
( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 16, 2016 |
I had read other novels by Smiley and thought, given the (again) political anti-university stance taken by WI governor, that it would be interesting to read this tale now. I understand that in a spoof of reality you want your characters to be characterizations and stereotypes, but I still do not enjoy reading novels with such superficial characters. ( )
  juniperSun | Jul 11, 2015 |
Well, I had to try it, considering I attended a college with an Ag emphasis in the Midwest. But now I'm working with my son's high school staff to improve the school for accreditation, and I don't want to think about grown-ups in an educational institution behaving badly.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
One of my top five favorite books--definitely my favorite of Jane Smiley. Hilarious probably because it's such an accurate account of our society. ( )
  ShelBeck | Mar 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Jane Smiley's new novel is a sprawling and hilarious spoof of contemporary life set in a fictional Midwestern university, whose initials provide its nickname, MOO.

Sometimes "Moo" relies on university in-jokes, but mostly Smiley is dealing with human nature. After laughing at each character and enjoying the twists and turns of the plot, readers may also find themselves reflected in this large and forgiving mirror of modern life.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Phoebe, Lucy, and Axel James, with love
First words
From the outside it was clear that the building known generally as "Old Meats" had eased under the hegemony of the horticulture department.
Quotations
Men are competent in groups that mimic the playground, incompetent in groups that mimic the family.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Moo is a 1995 novel by Jane Smiley. It is set in the American Midwest on the fictional campus of Moo University during the 1989-1990 academic year. The novel is a comedy that uses a sprawling narrative style, encompassing the lives of dozens of characters.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679420231, Hardcover)

The hallowed halls of Moo University, a midwestern agricultural institution (aka "cow college"), are rife with devious plots, mischievous intrigue, lusty liaisons, and academic one-upsmanship. In this wonderfully written and masterfully plotted novel, Jane Smiley, the prizewinning author of A Thousand Acres, offers a wickedly funny, darkly poignant comedy. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A satire on university life, describing the rackets and the intellectual dishonesty that goes on. The setting is the U of Moo where research into the destruction of rain forests is tailored to suit the corporation funding the project. By the author of A Thousand Acres.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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