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10 thoughts on “Union Atlantic

  1. says:

    Union Atlantic So good even negative reviews are basically recommendationsOne star reviews mention unsympathetic characters complex prose ponderous chapters moral ambiguity They call it a bad book I call itAdam Hasslett is so scary good at words he must've studied writing at Hogwarts And he writes fucked up pathetic and convoluted characters with staggering empathyLike Charlotte an elderly feminist scholar who loathes unfettered capitalism with a passion rivaled by her strange and elusive love for her brother the president of New York Fed She is the conscience of American history turned into a force of nature proud and armed to teeth against complacency This interview with the author where he talks about Charlotte and the other characters made me fall in loveIn this book Haslett creates people all over the moral and political heatmap and delivers them into this world with an elouence that makes you marvel at things that you might have thought before but perhaps never saw them phrased in such a keen way Now and again Sabrina employed this sort of presumption a compensatory fantasy he imagined for the inherent powerlessness of a person with an advanced degree in short fiction It was as though she’d bargained on receiving a certain cultural cachet that had yet to materialize and in the meantime needed a bridge loan of prestige paid out in the uasi glamour of international travel  All those characters whose only connection at first is accidental in a comic twist that tragedies are made of get tangled up in a power struggle before the dawn of the financial crisis that imploded in 2008 They come saddled with luggage of their pasts anxiety and self importance Everyone wants something from someone even if just a validation of their own worthlessness Or to find meaning in destruction of anotherI seem to love stories about loneliness Or maybe I've been falling victim to a conspiracy that puts stories like that on my path relentlessly But that's only a part of what I found in Union Atlantic and so I'm putting my morbid musings in a spoiler because I don't want to make you all sad; it's not spoilery for the book in case you're curiousview spoilerWhen I talk about loneliness to people they seem to think I'm angling for a hug or fishing for a platitude like you're not alone you've got me Truth be told I think loneliness is fascinating It's beautiful like a tree whipped by bitter wind and acid rain standing on top of a hill as generations of lesser beings fade out of existenceThere are two ways to write about it; as a pain or as a nutrientPeople nurtured by solitude are strange and terrifying to those who are scared of ending up like them We think loneliness is an illness lonely people are not normal even though how can you be yourself than when you're alone for months and months not letting another humans' influence pollute the purity of your essence? Letting other people's ideas and expectations drain out of your system Maybe that's why loneliness is scary because what's inside a human is scary and we have to pile connections aspirations longings furniture family and things on top of the hatch to the cellar; so the monster can't get out Maybe the bastard will starve in thereAnyway That's not what this book is about hide spoiler


  2. says:

    In an interview Adam Haslett said “My interest is always to get as deeply as I can into the minds and spirits of the characters and let the readers empathize or judge as they will” Well he uite succeeded in doing this in my opinion With Union Atlantic he tells the story of group of people whose lives intersected for a little period of time Haslett gives all dues to each character and easily drew me in making me feel that particular character The loneliness the confusion the passion that was Charlotte the loss the pain the escape the want of Nate the sleekness the barrenness of Doug etc He knows how to write peopleAs I read this during the time of the Greek bailout the story struck chords than just what happened in the past Because money meddling is not just a thing of the past I don’t think that we found the perfect solution yet Our world is controlled by ‘might is right’ not by ‘fair and just’ Maybe like Henry I too have to be pragmatic enough to bend my wish for the ‘better’ for the greater good even if this galls Or no should I be like Charlotte? A stalwart Don uixote fighting at windmills But without the Charlottes where would we be? Much worse than we are We need them at least to brake a little the headlong rush of greed Because our world is a good breeding ground for the sleek sharks that do not get wet like Doug Shortsighted yes because they need to drink that water to live But then maybe my definition of ‘live’ is not the same as theirsAn enjoyable group read where we talked this to death


  3. says:

    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 than that as well Like all novels that I love Union Atlantic is really about people And the characters are wonderful One of them Doug Fanning is indeed an irresponsible banker And another Henry Graves is the chief of the New York Federal Reserve But there is also Charlotte Henry's sister and Doug's neighbor old school WASP retired history teacher curmudgeon and crank who you end up rooting for And Nate her tutee whose father has recently committed suicide All of these people are all bound up together in ways that I would have thought implausible had you told me were I to tell you how it happens but in Haslett's hands it really works This is a big and sweeping novel about money and sex and history and money again and it's clearly trying to be big and sweeping To be honest I didn't care all that much about the sweep; the characters were enough for me And speaking of sit tight till Part II when you meet Evelyn Jones I was moved I still am just thinking about her Did some parts irritate me just a little bit? Yes they did the talking dogs particularly you'll see And if I could give it 45 stars I would but I'm still going to go with 5 instead of 4


  4. says:

    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 to Alexis Carrington Worthy of inclusion on this list is Doug Fanning the spider at the center of Haslett's fantastic web of a book Union AtlanticDoug is not only a banker but a bad banker one of the greedy speculators who got us into this mess we're in But Haslett cannot make a character without making him wholly human We are granted an understanding of Doug which translates into a better understanding of our age And when Doug comes into conflict with Charlotte Graves an elderly history teacher who was forced into retirement for her unflinching honesty and perspicacity the results are wrenching Charlotte is the my favorite character in recent memory; her monologues as she tutors teenager Nate are hilarious moving and eye opening And Nate is a perfectly wrought boy at sea I yearned to protect him both from his exploiters and his own bad decisionsHaslett has combined Whartonesue wit and authority with the heart and wide sympathies that made his collection You Are Not a Stranger Here so memorable As a result Union Atlantic achieves something many of our best and most enjoyable works of art fall short of importance


  5. says:

    How interesting that this has an average rating of only 334 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 fictionIt 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 eual facility about leveraged stock trades and margin calls and the mechanics of gay sex which explains why the novel was both a Financial TimesGoldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Nominee and got a Lambda Literary Award for Gay FictionSometimes good writing is deceptively simple He said nothing for another moment or two time enough he figured for the man to begin wondering about his own liability once the shareholder litigation began A fairly ordinary sentence yet think about how much a writer has to know both about finance and human behavior to create it And This was the kind of Business Roundtable chump who spent his lunchtime decrying government intrusion and now found himself on a cell phone in the middle of the night pleading with the government to save himOr this Zeitgeisty sentence Now and again Sabrina employed this sort of presumption a compensatory fantasy he imagined for the inherent powerlessness of a person with an advanced degree in short fiction OuchAnd Like a luxury car with poor turning radius it took some effort for her to steer back through the door which Doug closed behind herThere are a few false notes Charlotte serves Nate a tray of tea and biscuits as if we're in some country other than America And a huge Fourth of July party thrown by a megabank CEO and his wife descends into farce as the flock of sheep he owns in order to get a farming tax deduction are accidentally let loose and begin to nervously shit on the partygoers' feet and fireworks explode prematurely setting the lawn on fire We visit Charlotte's youthful live in love Eric in flashbacks; Eric is a heroin addict who in Charlotte's and Haslett's? eyes seems near Christlike We are also subjected to too much of high schooler Nate's friends and their drug binges; I always find myself hoping that a book aimed at adults featuring adult characters will remain that way and always cringe when the teens and their bongs emerge


  6. says:

    45 starsBasically what Apeiron said in her beautiful reviewThere were a lot of scenes small and bigger that were marvelous This author has a rare keen eye for interpersonal dynamics and at some point I felt driven to google his age There is something really mature in the way he brings characters to life a compassionate yet detached perspective that is highly perceptive and uniueJust one example to give you a taste I'll reuse this as it is the most powerful one without any character backstory Now and again Sabrina employed this sort of presumption a compensatory fantasy he imagined for the inherent powerlessness of a person with an advanced degree in short fiction It was as though she’d bargained on receiving a certain cultural cachet that had yet to materialize and in the meantime needed a bridge loan of prestige paid out in the uasi glamour of international travel Her parents were doctors who’d covered everything through graduate school but had drawn the line at outright patronageDead on unflinching insightful characterizations it's like Sabrina all disappointed entitlement and naive yearning and sullen attitude is walking off the page into my livingroom And Sabrina is only a very minor side character just imagine what he is able to do with focusing this kind of observational eye combined with a beautiful mastery of language on a main character That's what really made this book for me That said I feel the weakest part both in regards to the psychological deftness and storyline is actually view spoiler the gay relationship For me it did not have the same stunning uality as the other relationship dynamics somehow It is just a tad too fabricated too implausable and while it reveals a lot about Nate and his inner conflicts and needs it did not feel coherent with Doug's character In an interview I read afterwards Haslett mentioned that he did not have any interaction between Nate and Doug in mind when outlining the characters I could feel that in the execution the relationship arc did in fact feel a bit arty a bit construct driven than character rooted from the outset That unfortunately jarred me out of the story several times hide spoiler


  7. says:

    Watching the Congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs made me appreciate the prescience of Adam Haslett's brilliant novel Union AtlanticWritten 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 upon the plane and 290 people lost their lives as their Iranian Airbus passenger jet was shot down by the AmericansThe 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 and its aftermath leads Fanning to become the kind of man who later sets in motion a financial disaster that threatens the US banking systemFanning 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 schemesWhen 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 freuently share their conflicting advice with CharlotteCharlotte ends up tutoring Nate a teenage boy whose father recently committed suicide Nate and his mother are barely existing together 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 wantsWhen 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 freuently reread passages they were that beautiful Of Nate realizing that Charlotte needed him he writesThese 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 drivenHis 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 morassIt is astonishing that a fiction writer created this dialogue in 2008 when Henry the NY Fed Chair says to the CEO of Union AtlanticLet 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 uestion here of a bailout If you go under the markets will take a hit but with enough liuidity 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 DepartmentThis novel is 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 this is a book you must read


  8. says:

    Very good with so many beautiful scenes insightful observations and interesting characters But the first chapters are pretty boring Still wondering how this got the Lambda because the LGBT part is just so minor


  9. says:

    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 satisfyingMuch 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 withHowever 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 POVWhat 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


  10. says:

    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 caughtWhen his inevitable fall comes and he is returned to the Middle East setting where he experienced his first humiliation in Gulf War service it’s a bit of a letdown; he is no classic tragic hero just another disaffected young narcissist The novel is reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and indeed Franzen and Haslett seem to be pals with its setting of suburban angst and of A Week in December with its Dickensian fable of society gone wrong – through the lens of banking misconduct Haslett will be one to watch out for in the futureThis review formed part of an article about books on the financial crisis for Bookkaholic


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READ ´ THISISWHYYOUREFESTIVE.CO.UK Æ Adam Haslett

Union Atlantic

A watchful eye on Union Atlantic and the entire financial system Drawn into Doug and Charlotte's intensifying conflict is Nate Fuller a troubled high school senior who unwittingly stirs powerful emotions in each of them Irresistibly complex imaginative and witty Union Atlantic is a singular work of fiction that is sure to be read and reread long after it causes a sensation this sprin Very good with so many beautiful scenes insightful observations and interesting characters But the first chapters are pretty boring Still wondering how this got the Lambda because the LGBT part is just so minor

SUMMARY Union Atlantic

The eagerly anticipated debut novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist You Are Not a Stranger Here a deeply affecting portrait of the modern gilded age the first decade of the twenty first centuryAt the heart of Union Atlantic lies a test of wills between a young banker Doug Fanning and a retired schoolteacher Charlotte Graves whose two dogs have begun to speak to her When Union Atlantic So good even negative reviews are basically recommendationsOne star reviews mention unsympathetic characters complex prose ponderous chapters moral ambiguity They call it a bad book I call itAdam Hasslett is so scary good at words he must've studied writing at Hogwarts And he writes fucked up pathetic and convoluted characters with staggering empathyLike Charlotte an elderly feminist scholar who loathes unfettered capitalism with a passion rivaled by her strange and elusive love for her brother the president of New York Fed She is the conscience of American history turned into a force of nature proud and armed to teeth against complacency This interview with the author where he talks about Charlotte and the other characters made me fall in loveIn this book Haslett creates people all over the moral and political heatmap and delivers them into this world with an elouence that makes you marvel at things that you might have thought before but perhaps never saw them phrased in such a keen way Now and again Sabrina employed this sort of presumption a compensatory fantasy he imagined for the inherent powerlessness of a person with an advanced degree in short fiction It was as though she’d bargained on receiving a certain cultural cachet that had yet to materialize and in the meantime needed a bridge loan of prestige paid out in the uasi glamour of international travel  All those characters whose only connection at first is accidental in a comic twist that tragedies are made of get tangled up in a power struggle before the dawn of the financial crisis that imploded in 2008 They come saddled with luggage of their pasts anxiety and self importance Everyone wants something from someone even if just a validation of their own worthlessness Or to find meaning in destruction of anotherI seem to love stories about loneliness Or maybe I've been falling victim to a conspiracy that puts stories like that on my path relentlessly But that's only a part of what I found in Union Atlantic and so I'm putting my morbid musings in a spoiler because I don't want to make you all sad; it's not spoilery for the book in case you're curiousview spoilerWhen I talk about loneliness to people they seem to think I'm angling for a hug or fishing for a platitude like you're not alone you've got me Truth be told I think loneliness is fascinating It's beautiful like a tree whipped by bitter wind and acid rain standing on top of a hill as generations of lesser beings fade out of existenceThere are two ways to write about it; as a pain or as a nutrientPeople nurtured by solitude are strange and terrifying to those who are scared of ending up like them We think loneliness is an illness lonely people are not normal even though how can you be yourself than when you're alone for months and months not letting another humans' influence pollute the purity of your essence? Letting other people's ideas and expectations drain out of your system Maybe that's why loneliness is scary because what's inside a human is scary and we have to pile connections aspirations longings furniture family and things on top of the hatch to the cellar; so the monster can't get out Maybe the bastard will starve in thereAnyway That's not what this book is about hide spoiler

READ ´ THISISWHYYOUREFESTIVE.CO.UK Æ Adam Haslett

Doug builds an ostentatious mansion on land that Charlotte's grandfather donated to the town of Finden Massachusetts she determines to oust him in court As a senior manager of Union Atlantic bank a major financial conglomerate Doug is embroiled in the company's struggle to remain afloat It is Charlotte's brother Henry Graves the president of the New York Federal Reserve who must keep How interesting that this has an average rating of only 334 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 fictionIt 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 eual facility about leveraged stock trades and margin calls and the mechanics of gay sex which explains why the novel was both a Financial TimesGoldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Nominee and got a Lambda Literary Award for Gay FictionSometimes good writing is deceptively simple He said nothing for another moment or two time enough he figured for the man to begin wondering about his own liability once the shareholder litigation began A fairly ordinary sentence yet think about how much a writer has to know both about finance and human behavior to create it And This was the kind of Business Roundtable chump who spent his lunchtime decrying government intrusion and now found himself on a cell phone in the middle of the night pleading with the government to save himOr this Zeitgeisty sentence Now and again Sabrina employed this sort of presumption a compensatory fantasy he imagined for the inherent powerlessness of a person with an advanced degree in short fiction OuchAnd Like a luxury car with poor turning radius it took some effort for her to steer back through the door which Doug closed behind herThere are a few false notes Charlotte serves Nate a tray of tea and biscuits as if we're in some country other than America And a huge Fourth of July party thrown by a megabank CEO and his wife descends into farce as the flock of sheep he owns in order to get a farming tax deduction are accidentally let loose and begin to nervously shit on the partygoers' feet and fireworks explode prematurely setting the lawn on fire We visit Charlotte's youthful live in love Eric in flashbacks; Eric is a heroin addict who in Charlotte's and Haslett's? eyes seems near Christlike We are also subjected to too much of high schooler Nate's friends and their drug binges; I always find myself hoping that a book aimed at adults featuring adult characters will remain that way and always cringe when the teens and their bongs emerge

  • Hardcover
  • 320
  • Union Atlantic
  • Adam Haslett
  • English
  • 06 October 2018
  • 9780385524476