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Beet: A Novel

2.97  ·  Rating Details ·  155 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews

Beet College is doomed...and nobody really cares. The Board of Trustees, led by developer Joel Bollovate, has squandered the endowment. Debutante-cum-self-styled-poet Matha Polite, an indiscriminate radical with a four-student following, wants to bring the institution down. Sweet-tempered terrorist hopeful Akim Ben Ladin (né Arthur Horowitz) sits in his off-campus cave an

Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published January 29th 2008)
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Jul 02, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny, laugh out loud satire about higher education that you'll love if you like Roger's less than politically correct approach! He writes fast and furious and uses words that you'll have to stop and look least I did. I highly recommend it...especially to those who have been in education. I saw him in person and his personality is just as relaxed and outrageous as his characters.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Ugh -- yet another oddball comedy about obscure private colleges and the small towns they affect, full of cardboard-cutout characters so obvious and well-worn by now, you can practically stand them up and have them walk on their own. Why again did I decide to read Roger Rosenblatt's Beet? Oh yeah, tha
Mar 04, 2009 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So why is Professor Porterfield trying to save Beet College? Located in the gray, dour New England town of Beet, this grand institution offers a liberal arts education to 1,800 privileged young men and women and a haven from the real world for its 141 faculty members, including a decidedly dull dither of deans. No, the whole gang, students, profs and administrators didn't quite make it to Yale or Dartmouth, but Beet has a certain charm.

Roger Rosenblatt, a contributor to Time and PBS, takes a mar
Mar 31, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I first heard of this book when Roger Rosenblatt did an interview on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and then I read it with some other folks from my program. I think that I enjoyed it more than my fellow readers.

One of the reasons that they didn't like it is because it's extremely hyperbolic. Through that exaggeration, however, Rosenblatt warns of a level of detachment from reality that liberal arts colleges could reach. It made me laugh out loud. A lot. At times, it reminded of my own undergrad
Margrethe Lauber
Feb 14, 2010 Margrethe Lauber rated it really liked it
Shelves: uni-lit
A must-read if one is experiencing academia, or worse, the tenure process.
Apr 16, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed
Not as funny as Lapham Rising, but it's still completely a Rosenblatt yarn (so still enjoyable for those who like his stuff). The novel's saving grace comes at almost its exact midpoint (chapter 9), when Professor Peace Porterfield waxes poetic in his poetry classroom (ah, sweet irony).

The real reason I love this chapter is because this IS Rosenblatt in a classroom teaching. He did the closing-the-door assignment in a workshop I took (or at least talked about it; it was four years ago so my mem
Aug 03, 2008 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could not decide if I hated this book because it was crazy or loved it for the same reason. But I decided - how could I not like a book with a character named Martha Stewart Polite, who dropped the "r" in her name to become Matha, but who still had the irrestible urge to make peach pie (while trying to pass herself off as a campus radical at Beet College.) And then there was Arthur Horowitz, a Jewish student who changed his name to Akim bin Laden, grew a beard, lived in a cave and was research ...more
May 17, 2010 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a very light read.

Essentially the book makes modern (collegiate) educational trends look incredibly foolish and proposes that liberal arts education is not only legitimate but humanizing. It also takes to task some other elements of the modern educational system: the college as a for-profit institution, the repetition and unoriginality of student protest, and the hyper-sensitivity of feminist and diversity programs on campus (to name just a few).

Here was the frustrating thing about the
Nov 28, 2008 Traci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard once that the books you read reflect what is occurring in the world around you and sometimes where you are in life. I just finished Beet which was centered on a corrupt University Board member that was stealing school funds, selling valuable items that were not his to sell and accepting personal bribes. Sound familiar?

This book was enjoyable for the most part. The characters were hysterical- a Southern Belle Revolutionary, a Jew that chose to live in a cave and more faithful to the Arabi
Feb 29, 2008 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Moo by Jane Smiley
Shelves: back-to-school, humor
Beet College is the most liberal of liberal arts colleges in New England. Offering courses in disciplines such as Wiccan History, Homeland Security, and Native American Crafts & Casino Studies, Beet strives to attract any and all students.

But when the college's endowment disappears, the higher-ups at Beet seem resigned to closing the quirky school. In an attempt to look as though they care, they assign earnest literature professor Peace Porterfield to turn the curriculum around. Of course,
Alex Bevk
i found this book at my parent's house and grabbed it to read on my flight back home. apparently someone gave it to my dad because, haha, fiscal crises at collegiate institutions are hilarious! this book just made me nostalgic for the ridiculous liberalism of Madison more than actually interested in the plot. i ended up reading it on the beach in mexico...and that's about as much attention as it deserves. i'm not going to send it back to my parents, because i respect them too much to expect them ...more
William Blake
I admit it: I often choose books at the used book store based upon the attractiveness of their cover and the level of hyperbolic praise heaped upon a volume by, let's say, Kirkus Review. And thus, I really wanted to like BEET. And I did, though not in any transcendent way. Yes, colleges are funny places. I appreciate that, and enjoyed Rosenblatt's take. But it's a pretty threadbare theme, and I didn't really see anything new here. Read this for a good laugh or two, and then immediately rush to r ...more
Dec 07, 2008 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beet College is about to go under and Peace Porterfield is tasked with heading up the new curriculum committee. An hilarious look at life at a New England liberal arts college. Reminded my of a Carl Hiaasen novel- this time the enemy is Joel Bollovate, head of the Board of Trustees, who is plotting to let the college go under so he can develop the property. Bet there are a lot of developers salavating at the prime land held by college campuses! Fun - Emily and Ellie - you might like this one.
Feb 12, 2011 Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I keep having to put it down to close my eyes, shake my head and laugh until I get wheezy, it's going to take days to finish this book. Children, siblings, friends, spouses and lovers of academics, take heed. Should come with a coffee/snort warning sticker on the cover. Update: One day later, work unfinished, dishes undone, my stomach hurts from laughing. Once in a while, a story is a beautiful gift. This English major is returning to her day with a happy heart.
Aug 06, 2008 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very Funny Book...with a few serious moments. I loved Proffessor Peace Porterfield's solution to revising the curriculum and liberal arts college Beet............spend the entire freshman year teaching story telling and listening.............techniques that prove invaluable for the rest of the traditional courses.........makeks a lot on sence to me.......... Rosenblatt used many inside jokes regarding academia... I didn't get them all, but got enough to enjoy the book.
Jul 06, 2010 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, but you have to be prepared to like it the way you might like Candide (Peace's wife CALLS him Candide)... as a satire. One thing that might reduce the book's appreciative audience: Beet absolutely nails the way colleges/universities are operating right now, but it helps if you know something about it so you can see how absolutely dead-on Rosenblatt is.
Apr 04, 2008 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
For anyone who is sick of the new bottom-line in colleges and private schools, the silliness of identity politics, and the forceful mediocrity of academe, this satire is a delight. I'm reading the end of it now and have enjoyed the characters and the scope of this vicious little book. I've lived most of this insanity. I long for a world that says "enough!"
Sep 15, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
After a hesitant starting approach to the book -- I initially found it a little too satirical and even snarky -- eventually I got pulled into the twists, turns, and tweaks at the collegiate Ivory Tower atmosphere. (How true, how true.) Funny in a sometimes dry, sometimes blatant way, it's an entertaining riff on what college is and should be these days.
Jul 28, 2008 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Technically, I didn't read the whole book. It had no character development and the story line was just lame. It wasn't keeping me interested so I put it to rest. I might try this guy's other book though to see how I feel about it.
Oct 03, 2016 Roz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's a funny satire of educational system. I liked it as a satire but the humor was very subtle and the characters seemed one-dimensional. I like this type of book but this not my favorite. I am not sure who I would recommend it to. It's not Candide.
OK, it was funny at first, but then it got tedious. I think academics will pee their pants laughing at it, but I started to get bored. The BEST satire I've ever read about academic life is Richard Russo's "Straight Man." This can't even carry Russo's books.
Jul 13, 2009 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'd actually like to give this book a 3.5, but whatever. It was a really weird book. At time, it was hysterical. Subtly hysterical. But then that would make me feel dumb because I'm sure there was plenty more hysteria to be had, but I didn't get it.
Apr 03, 2008 Mom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like fiction about the merits of keeping colleges open, this one's for you. I especially liked Professor Peace Porterfield who really believes in giving students something worthwhile to take away from class...
Jun 16, 2011 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring with many unsympathetic characters that made it difficult to root for any one or even care that much.
Sep 21, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting into the book, but once I did, I found it to be quite witty and entertaining. It certainly made me think about my experience at Williams!
Jul 30, 2008 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a kind of funny look at modern education. But, I didn't really enjoy it
Feb 09, 2008 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
funny, delightful novel that reveals the absurdities of modern academic life in a small liberal arts college written by a professor who can laugh at himself and those around him. fun quick read.
Mar 21, 2015 Mckinley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, college
I liked comic looks at higher ed but this one didn't work for me. Prts are good but I thought it dragged.

See: Lucky Jim by Amis, Straight Man by Russo, Moo by Smiley
Dec 15, 2010 Connie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a tongue in cheek at the university level when the "capitalists" take over
Fun little book that alternately skewers and praises the ivory tower. Good ending too (which is a bit rare in books I've read recently).
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Roger Rosenblatt’s essays for Time magazine and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, a Peabody, and an Emmy. He is the author of six Off-Broadway plays and 13 books, including the national bestseller Rules for Aging and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written two satirical novels, Beet and Lapham Risi ...more
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