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Union Atlantic

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  1,281 ratings  ·  248 reviews
'Union Atlantic' is a deeply involving novel of the modern world. A world in crisis, where individual humanity is pitted against the global marketplace, and we must decide what, in the end, we value most highly.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published 2010 by Tuskar Rock Press (Atlantic Books)
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Dec 18, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stefan Löfven
Shelves: fiction

How interesting that this has an average rating of only 3.34. For me, it's one of the strongest novels of the 21st century I've read so far. (Granted, I don't read a lot of current literary fiction.)

It combines the pacing of a thriller, the social acuity of Tom Wolfe, and the phrase-crafting of Jonathan Franzen. I'd rank it above Privileges by Jonathan Dee, a somewhat similar novel. Haslett writes with equal facility about leveraged stock trades and margin calls and the mechanics of gay sex, whi
Vestal McIntyre
I love books that put me in the morally compromised position of rooting for a villain. In Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country, for example, we watch Undine Spragg, a creature of pure ambition and greed, as she goes through husband after husband in her search for wealth and status. She leaves in her wake a neglected son and a suicide. More than her downfall, though, I wanted to see her prevail. This phenomenon is old news, I suppose, considering fiendish scene-stealers from Milton's Satan t ...more
Escrito nas vésperas da grande crise financeira do subprime, dos créditos de risco e da bolha especulativa e imobiliária, Union Atlantic é um livro sobre a economia mundial, mas também sobre pessoas, sobre os medos e as ambições que inexoravelmente vão regendo as vidas de cada um.
Iniciei a leitura deste livro com receio de não ter conhecimentos suficientes para compreender alguns termos técnicos que se adivinhavam: swaps, subprime, créditos de risco, etc. No entanto, o autor só recorre a uma lin
Watching the Congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs made me appreciate the prescience of Adam Haslett's brilliant novel, Union Atlantic.

Written in the year before the economic collapse of 2009, Haslett's novel features a young gun investment banker, Doug Fanning, whom we first meet in 1988 when he is stationed on a US naval ship that is escorting Kuwaiti tankers through the Straits of Hormuz. Fanning sees an unidentified plane on his radar, and alerts his commander. A decision is made to fire
I was skeptical. Yes, I had really, really loved his collection of short stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here. But in his NPR interview I heard the description of this novel and it had to do with banking. And all of those things that made our economy nearly collapse. Not that these things aren't important, but I generally don't understand them: swaps and trades and mortgage-backed securities and markets and exchanges.

Turns out that it is about that, but about a lot more than that as well. Like
If, when you started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you spent the first chapter or so hoping the banking/industrial explanations would end, this is probably not going to be an ideal read. If, like me, you've been riveted by the behind-the-scenes drama of the banking crisis for the past 5ish years, Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic is the perfect accompaniment to the daily paper: a humanization of society's current villain class without any attempt to apologize or uncomplicate their choices ...more
Stephanie Sun
Union Atlantic has everything one could need from a contemporary novel, except for, perhaps, a sense of humor. Which isn't to say that it isn't a pleasurable read: it is. Just not exactly... satisfying.

Much of the pleasure here comes from Haslett's prose. Haslett knows exactly when to flex his muscles: in conjuring up the romance of a New England summer; the romance of youth; the romance of a secret, old, and useless pain; and, of course, the romance of money, both kept safe and played with.

Bookmarks Magazine
Although most reviewers praised Haslett's ambitious debut novel, they agreed on little else. Some extolled his richly imagined and beautifully depicted characters, while others denounced them as overly simplistic ciphers. Critics regarded Haslett's writing by turns as elegant, overwrought, graceful, and awkward, and they generally considered the wealth of financial information he imparts ""so unobtrusive that he teaches a great deal without appearing pedagogical"" (San Francisco Chronicle). Howe ...more
Very good indeed. It's a little shaggy in places but the writing is beautiful and it is just a smart novel - filled with ideas and things to ponder. Shocking - in a good way - ending.
Jim Leffert
At its core, this is a novel about three well-drawn characters—a clash between two of them and their impact on a third, whose identity is still emerging. Doug Fanning is a driven young man, a military veteran and son of an alcoholic single mom, who is helping his boss, Jeffrey Holland, turn conservative Boston bank Union Atlantic into a money-making powerhouse through far-flung investments. He builds an outrageously-sized mansion in the suburb Finden (think Weston and Wellesley combined), and in ...more
Japhy Grant
I've been a huge fan of Adam Haslett for a long time and eagerly awaited the release of his first novel. Union Atlantic is very much a novel of the moment and captures the current mood of nagging doubt, plain-faced greed and nostalgia soaked apathy that has settled over the country.

While the characters that populate the novel: a mercenary banker who's hollowed himself out so as to be a better instrument to others, a self-righteous aging school teacher whose liberalism has accomplished nothing mo
Rebecca Foster
Another capable fictional response to the banking crisis. Main character Doug Fanning is seemingly invincible: he thinks he is perfect and untouchable – that the property dispute threatening his mansion will just go away, that he can have an offhand sexual relationship with a teenage boy and no one will be any the wiser, and that he can commit fraud without getting caught.

When his inevitable fall comes and he is returned to the Middle East setting where he experienced his first humiliation in Gu
Larry Hoffer
Doug Fanning, a cocky war hero, is a tremendously successful banker in Boston, where he works for a major financial institution. Having grown up the son of a housekeeper in a working-class suburb of Boston, his competitive nature has taken him to the top of his profession, giving him authority for multi-million-dollar financial transactions all over the world. Charlotte Graves is an eccentric former teacher whose family has long had roots in the wealthy Boston suburb of Finden. She lives with he ...more
Phillip Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
“Union Atlantic,” Adam Haslett’s first novel, is the best fiction I’ve read to address the recent house of cards financial near-collapse on Wall Street. If that conjures up college nightmares of classes in economics theory, this novel couldn’t be further from that image. The clever plot brings a Katharine Hepburn-like retired school teacher and her fight to save her family’s long held lakefront Connecticut property into the story of an amoral trader who illegally (maybe) builds a McMansion next ...more
Sherman Alexie wrote in "Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" that good books give you boners. Union Atlantic should qualify under this criteria...and for its special shout outs to Williams College (page 125), Keats (203), Whitman (224), and a tiny photo of Kafka on the wall of a dorm room of a gay college student who just sounds cute (296) - "Alex had asked her what Nate's status was-gay or straight, available or taken" (295).

But (and this is a big but), the characters are so unlikable, e
Adam Haslett’s 2002 short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here explored topics we often conceal from others: solitude, suicide, mental illness, and death. These themes are present in all of Haslett’s exquisitely crafted stories. Haslett possesses an exceptional gift of bringing together characters with very different values, social statuses, and sexual orientations. As an anthropologist for wayward souls and misfits, Haslett is fascinated with the beauty and learning that emerge from the ...more
Karl Bemesderfer
If you take the Tom Wolfe of "Bonfire of the Vanities" and give him John Updike's gifts as a prose stylist, you get Adam Haslett. Haslett is as meticulous an observer of social mores as Claire Massoud, which is about as highly as I can praise any author, but whereas her prose often cuts to the bone it rarely soars. Haslett is capable of moments of surprising lyricism in a novel whose themes are international monetary finageling and a lawsuit about the ownership of a parcel of land. Here for exam ...more
Adam Haslett is a talented writer. He has a gift for crafting beautiful sentences (that are easy to digest) and for depicting lush scenes of grandeur or beauty (that are easy to imagine). Based on this alone, Union Atlantic is a fun read.

The tale of a rags-to-riches banker with little to no scruples who is eventually taken down by the good manners and strong ethics of his Brahmin betters, Union Atlantic assigns villains and protagonists to the financial crisis.

Haslett has taken the trouble to re
2 1/2

A pesar de que la historia se ambienta en los Estados Unidos de hace una década, esta novela aborda un tema que, lamentablemente, no deja de estar de actualidad por más que pasen los meses. Una visión cruda y realista de lo que sucede cuando unos pocos se dedican a jugar con el sistema financiero; y de como resulta fácil que se salgan con la suya, porque todo es cuestión de confianza, y no se puede dejar que el sistema colapse. Aunque es excesivamente técnica y compleja en algunos de sus pl
Max Bankole Jarrett
Yet another 21st century novel that was gushingly/eagerly recommended ( by the New Yorker) and a several other reviewers I have trusted over the years, fails to truly engage me. I think with the little time left and so many , many books to read, I will no longer waste any more time with new books by 21st century novellists written and published in English (as mothertongue) in the so called literary metropole after 2010, because I just "can't get no satisfaction" there. Better to stick with the l ...more
Perhaps the best book I've read in the past two or three years!

Haslett's story is timely and cathartic. He weaves the lives of the three main characters, a coming-of-age high-schooler, a broken investment banker, and a Emerson quoting retired history teacher into such a breathtaking, fragile, and interdependent web and sets each off against themselves, each other, modernity, and a looming economic catastrophe.

Beautiful prose. I couldn't put this book down. Finished it in one sitting on a cross-
Richard Jespers
A nice surprise. I only bought it because I had read Haslett’s short story collection, You Are Not a Stranger Here, and I was surprised to read of a really sweet gay teen Nate and a “straight” man Doug, who tolerates him for the sexual release. Perhaps not as literary as Haslett’s stories except perhaps for his portrayal of Charlotte. Her dogs “talk,” spout the most seemingly erudite kinds of information, but they turn out only (surprise!) to be Charlotte in the progression of losing her mind.

Ghastly. A quick glance at the blurb made me think it would be whimsical (retired teacher and her talking dogs) and I wasn't acquainted with the grandness of the author upon which other reviewers lavish mounds of praise for his short stories and this, his first feature length novel.

When I just don't "get it" I am never sure if it is due to my actual choice in favor of lack of sophistication or if in reality, it is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. These characters are dreadful. The main prota
I heard Haslett speak at NEIBA this fall and was intrigued by his unusual knowledge of and interest in the world of banking and finance. Something of a dolt in this subject, I like reading books that help me understand it better without putting me to sleep. Haslett was very funny, so I figured I'd be entertained, as well as enlightened. And I was. But beware if homosexual sex makes you squirm. (Now I know why my 70 year old dad, who I gave it to to read first, offered a lukewarm review when I in ...more
A good little read. Makes interesting a subject in which I'm not likely to find interest. Enjoyable.
Adam Haslett is the author of a wonderful collection of stories called You Are Not a Stranger Here, published in 2002. Union Atlantic is his first novel and it is a dazzler. It's the first novel I've come across that takes on the appalling implosion in the financial world with any real attention and intelligence. And it's a great read.
Joan Kerr
What a clever, funny, terrible book Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic (Tuskar Press 2010) is. Lots of books have been written about the power and the amorality of the money markets, but the scope of this book is wider and deeper. Against the barren certainties of Doug Fanning, billionaire wonder-boy of global finance, a highly-polished armoured shell of a human being –

You take the advantage you can get. That’s how you got what you have (201) –

is set the quixotic world-view of Charlotte Graves, who

Amanda Morgan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Haslett's short story collection is the best I've ever read and this is his first novel. It has the same power to stun the reader with its emotional precision and the events still follow a classical yet totally credible and organic tragic structure. He still surprises you with meaningfulness. Nate and Charlotte were great characters. Doug was, well, less relate-able and Henry seemed a bit dull by comparison. I'll admit I haven't been an enthused reader lately, so that's a factor in my response. ...more
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