Stephanie Sun's Reviews > Union Atlantic

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett
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Mar 19, 10

bookshelves: dead-tree, alternating-close-3rd-person, obama
Read in March, 2010

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.

However, parts of Charlotte's story felt like a cheat, both in terms of character and plot—the dogs and the land and the unlikely links to power all a deus ex machina that ends up mattering little in the end. Charlotte's ultimate fate is recalled for us at a distance by young Nate, in his final POV.

What to make of Nate, exactly? Haslett has joked in interviews that Nate's story is his "coming of age novel." It's impossible not to love Nate—Haslett's physical descriptions of the boy pretty much make you want to hug him every other sentence. However, I missed something deeper in his thread—some incisive conclusion or argument about youth—embedded as Nate's story is in an old world full of old mistakes, old money, and history repeating itself.
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