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Union Atlantic Paperback – 1 Jun 2011
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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
'An enthralling, lucid and superbly confident work of art that grips from the first page... This is a big novel and a masterful debut by a writer whose talent is equal to his project, and whose project could not be more timely.' Chris CleaveSee all Product description
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So far so good. My brain was saying - The Bonfire of the Vanities (Vintage Classics) nailed the 80s, "A man in full" nailed the 90s and now that Wolfe's powers are fading (I Am Charlotte Simmons was pretty poor) here's a guy to step in. Of course you have the Franztens and the Lethems etc still doing the Great American Novel, but they tend to write more about emotional themes than the "state of the nation"
Unfortunately that's where it falls down... the characters just aren't as fully formed as wolfe's. I found it quite hard to care too much about any of them. The whole point is that because you care about and engage with the characters, then you're genuinely interested in how events will effect them.
If you compare Doug Fanning - the main character in Union atlantic - to Charles Croker from "a man in full" or sherman McCoy from "Bonfire of the Vanities" you see how thin this book really is in comparison. I'm not even going to get into the prose styles, becuase Haslett's stuff is pretty clunky in comparison.
In short - great concept, good ambitious idea for execution, but let down by bad prose and unengaging characters. B- at best - if this looks interesting to you but you haven't read Wolfe already, swerve it and buy the real deal.
It's a great read but the reader should be aware that the erotic scenes are not for the faint hearted.
The characterisations ring true but do not engage the readers sympathy
Needless to say, Doug’s financial success is a “smoke and mirrors” operation and crisis point is approaching rapidly. Complications arise when a slacker pupil of Charlotte becomes fascinated by Doug and is encouraged assist him in resisting problems with Charlotte.
I found it a really good read. The plot is fairly complex and there are perhaps too many coincidences to be entirely credible. But it creates an excellent picture of financial mis-dealings and how the perpetrators will do anything to escape punishment. I loved the character of Charlotte – eccentric but endearing!