Jane Smiley is a hit or miss author for me. Sometimes she hits the target with such accuracy that her work reverberates in my life forever. Sometimes she misses.This is a miss. It's a ferociously complicated romp through a crisis year in the life of Moo University. It's witty, intelligent and often very funny, but Smiley's huge cast of characters tend to trip over each other, rather than perform an elegant waltz. The result is chaotic rather than absorbing and, inevitably, distancing. This primary error meant the characters remained cold for me: chess pieces rather than people. The only three I warmed to were the enormous pig, Earl Butts, his minder, Bob and the girl who, after many tribulations, he ends up with.