Moo

mooMoo
by Jane Smiley
1995 / 432 pages
rating:  7

This is a hard one!  If I’d read it back in 1995 I would have laughed and laughed – thoroughly enjoyed it.   But I read it in 2013 – almost 20 years after the fact.   I must say that generally I really totally enjoy some of Smiley’s books (The Greenlanders),  while others not so much – (Ordinary Love and Good Will).

I’m sure Moo worked as a fine satire when it came out,  but it’s dated now as it’s really quite specific to the times.  In 1995 Earl Butz  (from the Nixon era) was still a kind of joke,   the American Ag College with it’s fraternity system the Siberia of academia and radical feminism,  as well as  the international relations regarding Costa Rica and the fall of the Berlin Wall were big stories.

The few issues which remain today as then were well handled,  race,  campus politics and sex (boring to me but not irrelevant),  some others.  What makes it dated, I think, is that from the vantage point of the 21st century,  the 1990s seem like really simpler times.   Were it written today a satire of this type would include terrorism,  the economy,  more computer savvy kids,  etc.  These guys don’t even have cell phones.   I suppose it makes for a good historical piece.

The best parts are those dealing with Bob and the pig as well as the stories which Gary writes about Lydia,  “the deconstruction” was hilarious.

There are so many characters it’s almost impossible to follow a story-lines but toward the end I enjoyed the way they came together.   I wish I could say I enjoyed the book as a whole but for me the dated quality almost prevented me from finishing.

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