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Moo (1995)

by Jane Smiley

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2,546605,830 (3.51)127
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.
  1. 30
    Straight Man by Richard Russo (wademlee)
    wademlee: Academic satire, humorous & outrageous. Those in Academe will recognize themselves or their colleagues.
  2. 00
    Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror by James Hynes (sturlington)
  3. 01
    Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (allenmichie)

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» See also 127 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
funniest book about academe I've ever heard - on trip to and from Columbia Gorge ( )
  Overgaard | Jun 8, 2022 |
Hilarious! ( )
  nancymaguire | Jul 10, 2021 |
I really enjoyed reading this book. The vast panorama of characters is constantly giving us different points of view, keeping the story well-paced and interesting.

I liked Smiley's cynicism about the bureaucratic workings of a state university. Yes, higher education is a noble thing, but the purveyors of a higher education are often far less noble. In fact, they can be crass, vindictive and money-grubbing with few compunctions about throwing higher education under the bus in favor of the institution.

Smiley used two symbols that I loved. The first was the secret garden hidden in the very heart of campus which was destroyed. The second was poor old Earl Butz, the forgotten hog in the heart of campus, whose unforeseen and untimely appearance forced irrevocable changes to the university itself. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
I liked the concept - 1990 culture of a small liberal arts college. But the actual book was more about mediocre descriptions of relationships, and not enough about the college details. And the big pig - WTF? ( )
  bederson | Dec 17, 2020 |
A lot of people haven't liked this offering from Jane Smiley. It's a satire of life at a midwestern agricultural university. There are dozens of characters. Most are stand-ins for particular campus types, and include students, professors, and administrative officials (including a super-human administrative aid who really runs the whole university). Even the lunch lady from the cafeteria has a part to play, as well as the owner of a big corporation who, with possible evil motives, is dangling the offer of research money to the cash-strapped university. All the characters are broadly-drawn and no one individual could be called a "main character." I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, which detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. There is also very little plot. It is more of a "slice of life" novel.

Nevertheless, the novel is enjoyable if you go into it recognizing these limitations. Instead of focusing on and examining a specific aspect of academic life or a character or two, Smiley is covering Academia and its denizens with the broadest possible brush. It's not her best novel, but still worth a read.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Feb 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (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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For Phoebe, Lucy, and Axel James, with love
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From the outside it was clear that the building known generally as "Old Meats" had eased under the hegemony of the horticulture department.
Men are competent in groups that mimic the playground, incompetent in groups that mimic the family.
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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.

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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.
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Average: (3.51)
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