Union Atlantic Hardcover – 1 Jul 2010
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Absolutely brilliant. --Kate Atkinson
Adam Haslett has the rarest of talents: the ability to combine a powerful intelligence with storytelling that is both elegant and suspenseful, and to break your heart in the process. Union Atlantic is a masterful portrait of our age. --Malcolm Gladwell
This is the rare novel that is both urgently of its time and fully true to itself. Adam Haslett saw it all coming: our particular moment, our particular crisis. And because he was so far ahead of our leaders and our opinion-makers - because he is a true writer - he could take the time to fashion a book of exceptional maturity, completeness, compassion, comedy and suspense. It's been a long time since we've seen an American novelist reach for so much and achieve so much of what he's reached for. --Jonathan Franzen
About the Author
Adam Haslett is the author of the short story collection, You Are Not A Stranger Here, was a New York Times bestseller. It was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the US National Book Award, and has been translated into fifteen languages. His essays and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Best American Short Stories, among others. He lives in New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
As you've probably already heard, Union Atlantic is essentially about economics, more specifically financial meltdown, set as it is against the contemporary American stock exchange. However, despite some engaging insider views on the rabid passions and bizarre, otherworldly, foreign language of financial chicanery, this novel is more about the singular, yet powerful, place finance has in the world at large, and beyond that how actions in life's maze can ripple out, bringing down a whole heap of events to impact on seemingly unconnected individuals far beyond a person's intentions.
With characters connected either through family or fate are steadily introduced in a fashion that in other hands may have proved tedious and distracting - but guided by Haslett unravel into a mesmerizing treat of observation - Union Atlantic spreads out into a fascinating snapshot of everyday American life during this first decade of the twenty-first century. Inevitably, upon starting Union Atlantic, F.Read more ›
This short novel, which can be read within a week at a relaxed place, could be seen as a sort of fusion of the movies Syriana and Wall Street...Those two analogies are probably enough to avoid spoiling the book; but there's also some comedy in there, albeit not of the laugh-out-loud sort.
The first striking thing about Haslett's style is how perfectly poetic his words are - they're not overly decorative but vivid and dynamic in a fat-free way, from little details like how traffic lights look on a rainy windscreen to describing drug trips. There are times though when the financial-speak washed over my head and the italicised "preacher" speak was a bit heavy going, but that's more my failing - that said grasping the stories of the protagonists isn't hard. I also must add that as a straight man, there was something quite involving about the gay sex scenes.
Multiple themes seem to be touched here, the ones that stand out are the nature of a dog eat dog world and the value of principles. The characters are well rounded and seem believable as they're planted very well into a non-fictional backdrop. I agree with the professional critics that this is a timely release given that we're in a "new-cession" (a term I heard by a delivery man), but it's also timeless as the moods it brings up in the emotional side of things will always resonate.
All in all, a great book by Haslett, perhaps only losing full marks because it had some predictable turns.
The observations of modern society's obsession with money and power are well made and thought provoking (though the detail of the financial machinations were to me at times rather obscure) and there was a certain impetus to the story that gave it interest. However, the tension between the literary explorations of character and background, and the needs for plot to drive onwards with pace were never fully resolved. The book chops between a section of languid and thoughtful description and frantic action in an unsatisfactory way that gives a disjointed whole.
It's a shame really because clearly there is good quality prose here, and a good idea, but the two don't quite meet in the middle. Nevertheless, I'd be interested in reading another novel by the same author in the future, and would certainly be willing to give it a try with an optimistic approach.
The novel seeks to link the financial crises of the last decade and US foreign policy with shifts in the American way of life in recent years. Much of this critique is softened by coming from the voice of the retired history teacher (who is sinking in to dementia) instead of the narrator, so that ultimately it is unclear what the author thinks the root of the problem is, and he shies away from offering a definitive judgement on the state of the nation in recent years.
Haslett writes elegantly and precisely, with occasional passages that are impressively evocative. The writing style is typical of the serious and earnest manner of much contemporary American literary fiction - it is reasonably polished and yet at the same time somewhat bland. The book's main weakness is that its examination of its three central characters seems thin, with the narrative jumping from one scene to another so that meaningful change over time is implied but remains vaguely expressed and thus rather unsatisfying. This is compounded by a wealth of minor characters and events that are of marginal significance to the central plot. For this reason, the novel seems somewhat thin, despite its 320 pages. Although well-written and engaging, "Union Atlantic" seems to promise a little more than it delivers, and leaves the reader somewhat unsatisfied.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Doug Fanning served in the US Navy and was a technician on SS Vincennes when it shot down a civilian Iranian plane in 1988. Read morePublished on 24 July 2014 by Wynne Kelly
This book reaffirms or knowledge of the shady banking practises that have crippled our global economies. Nothing earthmoving comes out of this book. Read morePublished on 31 Dec. 2012 by Rudy K
very much in the style of Jonathan Franzen but lacking in his naturalism this rather stiff and wordy book deals with American Capitalism in the form of two neigbours clashing over... Read morePublished on 21 Jun. 2012 by pete
It is sad to write that this was an incredibly boring book.
I had high hopes: the idea of a clash of ideas within a small area is a very fertile ground. Read more
As an opener for the state of society in the early 21st century the book is entertaining and illuminating but not likely to achieve classic status. Read morePublished on 1 Oct. 2011 by Dudley Serious
This is easily the worst novel I've read since The Da Vinci Code. The first chapter -- set on the USS Vincennes when it shot down an Iranian passenger plane (a real incident) is... Read morePublished on 12 July 2011 by jimweibo
If ever we needed a story about rogue bankers destroying lives and each other in the pursuit of wealth and glory, then the first years of the 21st century is a good a time to place... Read morePublished on 16 April 2011 by mfl
This book is very revealing of the operations of high finance and how easily the young and innocent can be seduced. Read morePublished on 11 April 2011 by lizi
About three chapters into this book I thought - "good god, this is the book that Tom Wolfe would have written about the financial crisis" The nature of the stories, the characters... Read morePublished on 1 April 2011 by Amazon Customer