Union Atlantic

Union Atlantic

3.2 27
by Adam Haslett

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Apenas unos días antes de que se produjera la espectacular quiebra de Lehman Brothers, uno de los episodios clave de la peor crisis financiera global desde 1929, Adam Haslett entregaba su primera novela, una cautivante historia sobre los frágiles cimientos de una edad de oro corrompida por la codicia. Incorporado a la vanguardia de la literatura


Apenas unos días antes de que se produjera la espectacular quiebra de Lehman Brothers, uno de los episodios clave de la peor crisis financiera global desde 1929, Adam Haslett entregaba su primera novela, una cautivante historia sobre los frágiles cimientos de una edad de oro corrompida por la codicia. Incorporado a la vanguardia de la literatura norteamericana con la colección de relatos Aquí no eres un extraño —con la que obtuvo el prestigioso PEN New England Award y fue finalista del National Book Award y del Premio Pulitzer—, Haslett explora los factores culturales y humanos que propiciaron el colapso a través de un reducido grupo de personajes con posturas éticas irreconciliables.

Doug Fanning, el joven tiburón financiero que lidera la vertiginosa expansión del Union Atlantic, uno de los grandes bancos del país, acaba de construirse una ostentosa mansión en una selecta zona residencial a las afueras de Boston. Allí topará desde el primer día con el encono de su vecina, Charlotte Graves, una profesora de Historia que acudirá a los tribunales para denunciar la venta del terreno protegido donde se ha edificado la casa. Entre ambos litigantes se interpondrá Nate Fuller, un atormentado estudiante de instituto al que Charlotte da clases particulares. Así, mientras Fanning orquesta sofisticadas operaciones financieras al límite de la legalidad, el hermano de Charlotte, Henry Graves, director de la Reserva Federal de Nueva York, se halla cerca de destapar una trama de corrupción financiera de un potencial y unas dimensiones que ni él mismo imagina.

Traducida por el momento a diez idiomas, Union Atlantic es una novela ambiciosa, compleja e imaginativa, destinada a leerse como un retrato elocuente de nuestra convulsa modernidad

Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
Adam Haslett…may be our F. Scott Fitzgerald, an author capable of memorializing our crash in all its personal cost and lurid beauty. His first novel, Union Atlantic, is a strange, elegant story that illuminates the financial and moral calamity of the young 21st century…It's a profound, strikingly intelligent story about the cost of living in a world in which real values have been supplanted by a fiat currency of self-interest and empty promises.
—The Washington Post
Liesl Schillinger
Each story in [You Are Not a Stranger Here] explored a different way that tightly wound lives can come unspooled. Haslett wrote in a variety of detached, understated voices, each aching in its precise registry of the minute gradations of emotional pain. It's remarkable how successfully Union Atlantic—so unlike the stories in structure and style, and so much broader in scope—continues the nuance of Haslett's earlier characterizations. The actors in this extroverted drama are closeted (or not-so-closeted) introverts. The screen of their surface behavior hides their obsessions and hopes, as well as their shame—just as the balance sheet of a shady debt bundle can appear spruce and clear while concealing a thicket of machinations.…In Union Atlantic, swiftly and confidently, Haslett unwinds the ball of yarn that is the global financial crisis to reveal its core: a knot of ineluctable yearnings and individual needs.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In Haslett's excellent first novel (following Pulitzer and National Book Award finalist short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here), a titan of the banking industry does battle with a surprisingly formidable opponent: a retired history teacher. Doug Fanning has built Union Atlantic from a mid-size Boston bank to an international powerhouse and rewards himself by building a rural palace in Finden, Mass. The land his house is built on, however, had been donated to Finden for preservation by Charlotte Graves's grandfather, and Charlotte believes she now has a claim on the lot. She may be right, and her disdain of modern decadence means bad news for Doug should she win in court. Meanwhile, high school senior Nate Fuller, who visits Charlotte for tutoring and Doug for awkward and lopsided sexual encounters, finds himself with the power to upset the legal and cultural war game. Haslett's novel is smart and carefully constructed, and his characters are brilliantly flawed. (Charlotte's emerging instability is especially heartbreaking.) This book should be of interest to readers fascinated but perplexed by the current financial crisis, as it is able to navigate the oubliette of Wall Street trading to create searing and intimate drama. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Adam Haslett may be our F. Scott Fitzgerald. . . . A profound, strikingly intelligent story.” —The Washington Post Book World

“The first great novel of the new century that takes the new century as its subject . . . It’s big and ambitious. . . . It’s about us, now. All of us.” —Esquire
“Remarkable. . . . With gorgeous prose and the punch of a first-rate thriller.” —USA Today
“Funny and insightful. . . . The perfect book for our times. . . . Haslett has created memorable characters whose dysfunctional lives seem to embody the frenetic craziness and moral confusion of the era.” —“What We’re Reading,” National Public Radio

“It’s remarkable how successfully Union Atlantic continues the nuance of Haslett’s earlier [work]…. Swiftly and confidently, Haslett unwinds the ball of yarn that is the global financial crisis to reveal its core.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Exceedingly well written….A high-spirited, slyly astute exploration of our great bottoming out.” –The Boston Globe
“An enthralling, lucid and superbly confident work of art that grips from the first page as it puts the reader ringside at the heart of the financial crisis, revealing it finally as an emergency of the human heart and its societal urge….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 Cleave, author of Little Bee and The Other Hand
“Union Atlantic sets itself the daunting challenge of doing for late capitalism what Heart of Darkness did for late colonialism. It is a measure of Haslett’s extraordinary skill that he just about succeeds.” –The Financial Times
“Haslett has a deeply informed and imaginative grasp of history, and his book reads like a thriller, but it is, stealthily, much more than that: a chronicle of the collective corruption whose fallout we are, right this minute, enduring.” –O, The Oprah Magazine
“More than a financial page-turner….An ambitious literary work, filled with compelling characters, evocative prose and finely drawn social portraiture….The first serious fictional portrait of the bailout era….Decades from now, this fine novel will help readers understand the period we’ve just been through.” –The Wall Street Journal
“Haslett is a major talent….It’s been years since a novel has captured the zeitgeist of contemporary America this well; it’s been years since a new author has convinced us, with just two books, that there might be nothing he can’t do.” –Bookslut
“[Haslett] has written the first great novel of the new century that takes the new century as its subject, but not simply because it takes the new century as its subject….Rather, Haslett has written a great novel because he has emerged in Union Atlantic as a great novelist, a mystery as abiding as any of the mysteries of the Fed—indeed, a mystery restored, even as the mysteries of the Fed are revealed.” –Esquire
"Union Atlantic is a bleak, brazen, beauty of a book."—Elle
“In Union Atlantic, Haslett presents us with a sweeping, blessedly clear vision of how we wound up in the economic cesspool….And he does it all with modesty and a depth of feeling for his characters that imbues, yet never seeks to explain away, their essence.”—GQ
"Emerging here as a sort of E.M. Forster of the aughts, Haslett high-steps nimbly from great tenderness to arch social satire, and from the civic to the personal. He even manages to make monetary systems....glow like poetry.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Union Atlantic will possibly be the quintessential American novel of the first decade of the 21st century.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[Haslett’s] gift for language, his unerring eye, his honesty and his compassion for his characters, many of whom are deeply flawed and deeply troubled, puts him in the company of the best authors writing in English today….In Haslett’s hands, there’s also humour, insight, and a shard of hope.” –The National
“[Union Atlantic] takes on the largest possible questions: the fate of the American empire and the meaning of America itself. The action moves with high Aristotelian perfection….Haslett is a skilled writer with a painfully acute feeling for the dynamics of family life in old New England families.” –The New Republic

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A plot of land. That’s what Doug told his lawyer. Buy me a plot of land, hire a contractor, and build me a casino of a house. If the neighbors have five bedrooms, give me six. A four-car garage, the kitchen of a prize-winning chef, high ceilings, marble bathrooms, everything wired to the teeth. Whatever the architecture magazines say. Make the envying types envious.

“What do you want with a mansion?” Mikey asked. “You barely sleep in your own apartment. You’d get nothing but lost.”

Finden, Doug told him. Build it in Finden.

And so on a Sunday morning in January 2001, Mikey had picked Doug up at his place in Back Bay and they had driven west out of Boston in a light snow, the gray concrete of the overpasses along the Mass Pike blending with the gray sky above as they traveled the highway that Doug had traveled so often as a kid. It had been six years now since he’d moved back up to Massachusetts from New York. What had brought him was a job at Union Atlantic, a commercial bank whose chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Holland, had entrusted Doug with the company’s expansion. In the years since, his salary and bonuses had accumulated in the various accounts and investments his financial adviser had established, but he’d spent practically nothing.

“You’re pathetic,” Mikey had said to him once, when he’d come back to Doug’s apartment for a beer and seen the college furniture and books still in their boxes. “You need a life.”

A solo practitioner, Mikey had gone to Suffolk Law at night, while he worked at a bail-bond office. He lived with his girlfriend in one of the new condos in South Boston, six stories up and two blocks east of the house he’d grown up in, his mother still cooking him dinner on Sunday nights. He liked to call himself a well-rounded lawyer, which in practice meant he did everything but drive his clients to work.

A few miles short of the Alden town line, they turned off at the Finden exit onto a wooded road that opened out into the snow-covered meadows of a golf course, used at this time of year for cross-country skiing. They passed under an old, arched brick railway bridge and soon after reached the first stretch of houses.

The town was much as Doug remembered it from the days when he’d driven his mother to work here: mostly woods, the homes widely spaced, with big yards and long driveways, the larger homes hidden from view by hedges and gates. When they reached the village center, he saw that the old stores had been replaced by newer clothing boutiques and specialty food shops, though their signage, by town ordinance, remained conservative and subdued. The benches on the sidewalks were neatly painted, as were the fire hydrants and the elaborate lampposts and the well-tended wooden planters.

On the far side of this little town center, the houses became sparse again, one large colonial after the next, most of them white clapboard with black trim. They passed a white steepled church with a snow-covered graveyard and a mile or so farther along turned onto a dirt track that led down a gentle incline. A few hundred yards into the woods, Mikey brought the car to a halt and cut the engine.

“This is it,” he said. “Five acres. Up ahead you got a river. The other side’s all Audubon so they can’t touch you there. One other house up the hill to the right, and a couple more on the far side of that. Any other place, they’d put eight houses on a piece this size, but the locals ganged up and zoned it huge.”

Stepping out of the car, they walked over the frozen ground farther down the track until they reached the bank of the river. Only four or five yards across and no more than a few feet deep, it flowed over a bed of leaves and mossy rock.

“Amazing,” Doug said, “how quiet it is.”

“The town’s asking for two point eight,” Mikey said. “My guy thinks we can get it for two and a half. That is if you’re still crazy enough to want it.”

“This is good,” Doug said, peering across the water into the bare black winter trees. “This is just fine.”

The house took a year to complete: three months to clear the land, bury the pipes, and dig a foundation, another seven for construction, and two more for interior work and landscaping. For the right sum, Mikey oversaw all of it.

By the time it was done, the real estate market had progressed as Doug had foreseen. After the tech bust in 2000, the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates, making mortgages cheap, and thus opening the door for all that frightened capital to run for safety into houses. The attacks on 9/11 had only sped the trend. These new mortgages were being fed into the banks like cars into a chop shop, stripped for parts by Union Atlantic and the other big players, and then securitized and sold on to the pension funds and the foreign central banks. Thus were the monthly payments of the young couples in California and Arizona and Florida transformed by the alchemy of finance into a haven for domestic liquidity and the Chinese surplus, a surplus earned by stocking the box stores at which those same couples shopped. With all that money floating around, the price of real estate could only rise. Before Doug ever opened the front door, the value of his new property had risen thirty percent.

The first night he slept in Finden he remembered his dreams as he hadn’t in years. In one, his mother wandered back and forth along the far end of a high-school gymnasium, clad in a beige raincoat, her hands in her pockets, her head tilted toward the floor. They were late again for Mass. Doug called to her from beneath the scrub oak in their tiny backyard. Its bark peeled away, he saw veins pumping blood into branches suddenly animate and forlorn. A priest waited in an idling sedan. In the distance, he heard the sound of a ship’s cannon firing. Oblivious to all of this, focused only on the floorboards in front of her, his mother kept pacing. As the deck beneath him began to list, Doug rolled to his knees to break his fall.

He woke on his stomach, sweating. The wall was an uncanny distance from the bed, the pale-yellow paint someone had chosen for it beginning to glow dimly in the early-morning light. He rolled onto his back and stared at the stilled ceiling fan, its rounded chrome fixture as spotless as the deck of the Vincennes on inspection day.

Here he was, thirty-seven, lying in his mansion.

Reaching for the remote at his side, he switched on the TV.

.?.?. Israel denies Arafat request to leave West Bank compound, the CNN ticker began .?.?. Pakistan in discussions with U.S. to hand over chief suspect in murder of Wall Street Journal reporter .?.?. CT residents to pay $50 more per year for garbage collection after State Trash Authority loss of $200 million on deal with Enron .?.?.

His BlackBerry began vibrating on the floor beside his keys; it was his trader in Hong Kong, Paul McTeague, calling.

At Doug’s level of bank management, most people relied on underlings to handle recruiting, but that had never been his practice. He insisted on choosing his own people, right down to the traders. McTeague had been one of his. They’d met a few years ago on a flight to London. A Holy Cross grad, McTeague had grown up in Worcester and learned the business with a specialist on the floor of the NYSE. A rabid Bruins fan, his conversation didn’t extend much beyond hockey and derivatives. Twenty-eight and itching to make a killing. The human equivalent of a single-purpose vehicle. In short, perfect for the job. Usually Doug would have waited awhile before clueing in a new guy as to how he, in particular, ran the flow of information, i.e. avoiding intermediate supervisors. But he could tell right away that McTeague was his kind, and so he’d told him straight out: If you’ve got a problem and you’re getting hassled, just call.

Two months ago, when the head of the back office at the Hong Kong desk had left, Doug had installed McTeague as the temporary replacement, thus putting him in charge of all paperwork and accounting, and expanding the dominion of an employee with direct loyalty to him. The more raw information Doug could get stovepiped up from the front lines without interference from all the middling professionals, the more direct power over outcomes he wielded.

“You’re a genius,” McTeague said when Doug answered his phone. “The Nikkei’s up another two percent. Our economy’s still in the tank but Japanese stocks keep rising. It’s a thing of beauty.”

A month and a half ago, in early February, he and McTeague had been at a conference in Osaka. After one of the sessions, they had gone to Murphy’s, the bar where the Australians pretended to be Irish. They were about to call it a night when Doug saw a senior deputy in the Japanese Ministry of Finance stumble in with a Korean woman half his age. The man shook his head in resignation as his young companion made her way straight for the bar and ordered a bottle of scotch. Interested to see how things would play out, Doug ordered another round and he and McTeague settled in to watch. The argument in the corner grew steadily more heated. The woman was demanding something the man didn’t want to give, the Tokyo deputy apparently at wits’ end with his mistress. Eventually, after being harangued for half an hour, he stood up, threw cash on the table, and walked out of the bar.

That’s when the idea had occurred to Doug: the young woman might know something.

“Do me a favor,” he’d said to McTeague. “Comfort the girl.”

And a good job of it McTeague had done. At some point after they’d had sex, the deputy’s mistress told him that the Ministry of Finance had a plan. They were about to launch another price-stability operation. The Japanese government would buy up a boatload of Japanese domestic stocks, sending the Nikkei index higher and thus shoring up the balance sheets of their country’s troubled banks. It was a classic command-economy move, using public money to interfere with the market’s valuations. In the process, the Japanese government would hand a major loss to the foreign, largely U.S. speculators who had been shorting the value of their stock market for months.

The operation, of course, was secret.

And thus it was that in mid-February, Atlantic Securities, the investment banking firm that Union Atlantic had purchased and renamed two years earlier as part of its expansion, had become the one American firm to go from bearish to bullish on the prospects for the Japa?- nese economy. Under Doug’s supervision, McTeague had placed large bets on the Nikkei going higher, using Atlantic Securities’ own money. The resulting trading profits had been substantial and were still flowing in. It would be awhile yet before the Ministry of Finance’s plan would become public and there was a lot of money to be made in the meantime.

“So,” McTeague asked, eager as ever, “how much cash do I get to play with tomorrow?”

“We’ll see,” Doug replied. “Call me after New York opens.”

The chilled marble of the bathroom floor felt particularly solid against the balls of his feet. Two huge sinks in the shape of serving bowls, one for the master and one for his wife, were set beneath mirrored cabinets along the far wall. Beyond were two shower stalls with shiny steel heads that jetted water from the walls and ceiling. Opposite these stood a patio-size cross between a Jacuzzi pool and a bathtub, the whole thing decked in slate.

Walking to the window, Doug looked out across the front of the house. Mikey had done a good job: a stately, circular driveway, an enormous freestanding garage mocked up like a barn, and, surrounding it all, pleasing expanses of lawn. Through a row of bare maples that had been left up the hill to mark the property line, he could see a dilapidated barn and beside it an ancient house with weathered shingles, a listing brick chimney, and a slight dip in the long rear slant of its roof. It was one of those old New England saltboxes that historical preservation societies kept tabs on, although not too closely by the looks of it. Whoever owned it didn’t seem to be occupying the place. Weeds had risen in the rutted gravel drive. On the one hand, it was the farthest thing from a Mickey D’s and a strip mall you could get, just the sort of nostalgia for which people loved towns like this, casting the dead starlight of American landed gentry, dotted with graveyards full of weathered headstones and the occasional field of decorative sheep. Allowed to decay too far, however, it could cause a decline in the value of Doug’s property. If some absentee WASP who’d retreated to his compound in Maine thought he could just let a house rot like this, it would have to be sorted out. He’d put Mikey on it, he thought, as he slipped out of his boxers and stepped into the shower.

Downstairs, he passed through the mansion’s empty rooms and, finding the touch-screen keypad by the front door inscrutable, pushed an Off button and saw the screen announce: Fanning Disarmed.

Mikey was good. He was very good.

As he came down the front steps, the late-winter sun was just beginning to strike the side of his garage. Glancing over the roof of his car, he saw a woman in a blue ski jacket coming out the back door of the old house up the hill, which was apparently inhabited after all. Tall and rather thin, she had longish gray hair and a stiff, upright posture. With her were two large dogs, a Doberman and some sort of mastiff. It looked as if the animals were too strong for her, that she might be pulled down by them, but a yank of her arm brought them under control and they led her in orderly fashion along the stone path to the overgrown driveway. At first Doug thought she hadn’t noticed him at such a distance. But then, as he was about to get in his car, she glanced in his direction, and Doug waved.

She made no response, as if surveying an empty landscape.

Rude or half blind, he couldn’t tell. Driving slowly, he turned onto Winthrop Street and, lowering the passenger-side window, rolled up beside her.

“Good morning. My name’s Doug Fanning. The new place here—it’s mine.”

For a moment, it seemed she hadn’t heard a word he said and was perhaps deaf to boot. But then, abruptly, as if the car had only now appeared, she came to a halt. Bringing the dogs to heel, she leaned down to look into the car. The deeply lined skin of her face had the same weathered gray hue as the side of her house. Without a word, as if he weren’t even there, she sniffed at the air of the car’s interior; the Lexus he’d leased for the new commute was still pine fresh.

“Trees,” she said. “Before you came. All of it. Trees.”

And with that she stood upright again and kept walking.


Meet the Author

ADAM HASLETT's short-story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It has been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in New York.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 24, 1970
Place of Birth:
Porchester, New York
B.A., Swarthmore College, 1993; M.F.A., Iowa Writers¿ Workshop, 1999; J.D., Yale Law School, graduating May 2003

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Union Atlantic 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
cnnllsn More than 1 year ago
Encompassing a range of topics and situations from success at work, disaffected citizenry, to sexual and familial relationships, this novel weaves a strong plot that made me not want to stop reading. Reading it each morning on the subway I almost missed my stop each time. It really pulls you in and answers modern personal questions that have crossed all of our minds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tomthom1 More than 1 year ago
Haslett's writing is swift and incisive. He takes you to the heart of our conflicted times. By playing off the two main characters, he examines the modern tension between traditionalist and progressive, one with a life bounded by rules, the other in a life of seizing opportunities. This is Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" for the 21st century.
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Brad_the_nook_nerd More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Union Atlantic and found it to be quite a page turner. It didn't have the same level of depth of Adam Haslett's collection of stories in You Are Not a Stranger here, but I found it both thought provoking and entertaining at the same time. I enjoyed seeing the financial crisis for so many different perspectives and I think the author does a good job of probing the perspective of the regulatory establishment though the character of Henry--something we don't really see in the press. The story of the bank crisis in Union Atlantic is that of a minor problem that becomes a major problem in the cover-up--an idea that clearly transcends the financial crisis.
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bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Watching the Congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs made me appreciate the prescience of Adam Haslett's brilliant novel, Union Atlantic. 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. An Iranian passenger jet with 290 people on it was shot down by the Americans. The incident gets covered up, as well as the fact that Fanning failed to tell his commander that the jet was ascending, not descending as the commander was told. This incident leads Fanning to become the kind of man who later sets in motion a financial disaster that threatens the U.S. banking system. Fanning becomes a big success as an investment banker at Union Atlantic. He takes risks there as well, and as long as he produces big profits for the bank and in turn himself, he can cut all the corners he likes. His boss is willfully ignorant of Fanning's schemes. When Fanning builds a huge McMansion next to property owned by Charlotte Graves, he underestimates her. The land was owned by her grandfather, and Charlotte believes his house is obscene. Charlotte, a retired teacher, is eccentric, slipping into insanity. She believes that her two dogs are the incarnated Malcolm X and Cotton Mather, and they frequently share their conflicting advice with Charlotte. Charlotte ends up tutoring Nate, a teenage boy whose father recently committed suicide. He breaks into Fanning's home, and ends up in a dangerous sexual relationship with Fanning. Fanning wants Nate to help get Charlotte off his back, and he is willing to use Nate's vulnerability to get what he wants. When a colleague working for Fanning runs a scheme that unravels, Charlotte brother Henry Graves, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, becomes involved in trying to keep this from ruining the entire entangled U. S. economy. (Hank Paulson, anyone?) How Haslett weaves these stories together is a wonder. He doesn't write this novel, he crafts it. It took me along time to read this book because I frequently reread passages, they were that beautiful. Of Nate realizing that Charlotte needed him, he writes These last many months the intuition of others' needs had become Nate's second nature, as if his father's going had cut him a pair of new, lidless eyes that couldn't help but see into a person such as this this: marooned and specter-driven. His characters are vivid and complex. Nate is flailing about, wanting to be loved and willing to debase himself to do it. Charlotte is a genius, bordering on insane, and Fanning is amoral, sinking further into the morass. It is astonishing that a fiction writer created this dialogue in 2008, when Henry the NY Fed Chair says to the CEO of Union Atlantic "Let me start by saying that if you or your board is under the impression that Union Atlantic is too big to fail, you're mistaken. There's no question here of a bailout. If you go under, the markets will take a hit, but with enough liquidity in the system we can cut you loose. I hope you understand that." This, of course, was a bluff. Henry has already begun receiving calls from the Treasury Department. This novel one of the best books I have read this decade. The story is relevant and the characters are powerful. Haslett is a true craftsmen. If you like good fiction, read this.
mandersj More than 1 year ago
Pulitzer prize-winning writer Adam Haslett's debut novel is an epic and multi-layered intricately detailed story. "Union Atlantic" is heavily planted within the banking industry. Helmed by Doug Fanning, a seemingly invincible higher-up within Union Atlantic, one of the country's most powerful banks, Doug skirts the rules and laws of banking, and has made billions for himself as well as the company. Building a sprawling mansion on a piece of land he bought from the town in Finden, Massachusetts, Doug soon finds his nearest neighbor, Charlotte Graves, has a serious beef with him living on what she believes to be her family's land. Charlotte has a beef with many things, and her two dogs often talk her through both sides of whatever issue Charlotte is dealing with at the moment. Meanwhile, a seventeen-year-old boy whom Charlotte is tutoring (more like forcing her unintelligible rants upon) lets his curiosity get the better of him and decides to explore Doug's mansion and finds both Doug and his house captivating. Nate, the teen, and Doug enter into a sexual relationship that is described quite graphically at times. Between Doug's personal life and professional dealings, he's not a likeable guy. He takes advantage of Nate repeatedly, using Nate's body and coercing him into stealing some of Charlotte's personal documents to use against her in the fight over the property Doug's mansion is built on. When an insider trading scam is discovered, Doug decides to go to great lengths to cover it up. To avoid the downfall of Union Atlantic, as well as the downfall of the financial community at large, Doug does everything he can to cover up the scam, falling sadly short. This book is not about happy endings. We find morally corrupt Doug hiding out in the Middle East, right where he was when the book ambiguously began. Nate finds himself being the predator to others that he imagines Doug was to him. Rather than be forced into an assisted-living facility by her brother, Charlotte allows her reality-challenged mind overtake her in the end. Difficult to read, and highly technical within the banking storyline, I found myself disappointed there was not more of a resolution to the problems these characters got themselves into. I'm not sure a single character in this book was likeable, and perhaps that is Haslett's intention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Basis of story sounded interesting. Author's previous short stories were well received. I hate to not a finish a book so I got through it but it was weak. I won't even keep it on my shelf to avoid someone else having to endure it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read numerous first time authors in the past and become a fan of their work. Sadly, Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic fails to capture my attention for future titles. Shallow plot, characters and overall execution led me to put the book down several times before putting it in my Goodwill gift box. I know Haslett's other writing is respected, but why any editor would recommend this story for publication is beyond me. Union Atlanta received a favorable review on NPR, which has been a good source for new books in the past, so I'm now equally disappointed in their review process. So, like the banking and investment community this book attempts to rip, I'm lacking confidence in both Haslett's fiction writing ability and NPR's reviews. Can we trust ANYTHING anymore?
Vita_Brevis More than 1 year ago
This would be a book that I would not highly recommend to friends. The characters seemed to be rather transparent and predictable. The plot was pulled from some of the recent financial headlines and social trends, but were not
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After loving "You are Not a Stranger Here" I was very dissappointed with this book. While the suject was very timely(actually written before the big financial meltdown), most of the characters were not that compelling. If I love a book, I read it every spare minute. With this one, I looked for other things to do with my spare time, and only picked it up to read every few days. His writing is still quite strong, but it clearly wasn't a page turner.
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