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Posted July 25, 2002
An excellent satire on American academia. Jane Smiley laughingly heads straight for the university's jugular in this hilarious send up of a mid-western 'farming' college. All her characters are larger than life and completely believable. Strangely enough not every university student got there because he or she were academically bright and Smiley revels in this. A thoroughly enjoyable read on several different levels.
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Posted January 1, 2002
A Great Send-Up
Moo is Jane Smiley's terrific send-up of education, bureaucracy, racism, politics, love and just about everything else in the 1980s. Set in a fictional Iowa university town, Moo U. is as much fun as a roller-coaster ride and features a cast of characters that are nothing short of hilarious. There is English professor, Tim Monahan, who is perpetually preoccupied with his always-imminent raise and promotion; provost Ivar Harstad, who is coping with the governor's cuts in university funding; and Bo Jones' secret experiment involving a hog named Earl Butz. Really! And, it only gets better. There is Dr. Lionel Gift who gets hopelessly involved with a Texas billionaire named Arlen Martin. The two cook up a project to mine gold from the world's last virgin rainforest, a project that incurs the wrath Chairman X, a man so caught up in leftist ideology he forgets to marry the mother of his children...for more than twenty years. And best of all, there is Mrs. Walker, the plotting and conniving lesbian secretary to the provost who secretly runs everything at Moo U. with an iron hand. If it seems like Smiley doesn't write much about education in this book about university life, then that's exactly right, for education has little to do with the day-to-day goings-on at Moo U. Moo U. and its cast of off-beat characters are really a microcosm of America under the Reagan Administration and Moo U. could be any university in the United States. The only thing wrong with Moo is that, while it is supposed to be satire, it just misses the mark. Don't get me wrong, this is a hilarious book and a hilarious send-up, but I think true satire requires a harder heart than Smiley seems to have. The ending is a bit of a letdown, especially after the rollicking good ride Smiley has taken us on to get us there. Anyone who doesn't mind a bit of a letdown, however, will find Moo an enjoyable and hilarious book that makes fun of just about everything.
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Posted March 12, 2013
Posted May 16, 2009
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