Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Moo by Jane Smiley

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Moo" is a humorous depiction of a ficitonal ag college in the midwest. The cast of characters is huge and is composed mainly of the students(customers, as the administration calls them) and staff who spend most of their time on the campus of Moo U. This is the first book I've read by Jane Smiley who won a Pulitzer for her book, "A Thousand Acres." I didn't know what to expect which is just as well because this novel was highly unexpected. The first eight chapters or so are devoted to introducing the multitudes. Very gradually, all these people are tied into the plot with their various stages of life and emotions. I disliked the smug and famous economist, and the self-important dean of extension the most. At first, I disliked the English professor and novelist but he grew on me. Most of the students left me indifferent, and most of the staff were unloveable. My favorite characters were Mrs. Walker, the provost's secretary who truly runs the entire campus, Bob, the freshman student who is quite naive and diligent, and, most of all, Earl Butz, a hog at the center of the action whose experimental huge growth symoblizes much of the successes and failures of a university gone amok. Some reviews I have read suggest this is an accurate satire of actual university politics and policies. There is one chapter, "Who's in Bed with Whom", that I found way too graphic and not terribly important to the overall plot except to illustrate the weird relationship between the language teacher and the head of the horticulture department. There is quite a bit of profanity as well. And occassionally, Smiley would throw in these long sentences that I would read and re-read and still couldn't quite follow. It's definitely a book to mull and ponder to really get the full flavor of, and I'm not much into mulling and pondering. Still, I was suprised to find that at the end I did like the book, even though I felt I was dragging myself through it. The ending and the eventual fate of Earl Butz just pulls everything together and made sense of all the different characters and plot lines. Rating: 3.75
Posted by Framed at 7:19 PM

Literary Feline said...
I admit that from reading the backs of Jane Smiley's books I haven't felt the urge to bring any of them home. Maybe one day I will find myself doing so though. This one does sound interesting. If I do read it, I will keep in mind that it all comes together in the end. :-)
8/21/2007 10:55 PM
Cassie said...
I don't think I'll read this as I am not prone to dragging myself through a book unless it is a book club book.
8/22/2007 9:22 AM
Booklogged said...
I agree with Cassie. The dragging myself through a book doesn't sound like something I want to do right now.

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