Saturday, May 8, 2010

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

Crises, financial, moral and sexual, engulf three members of the East Coast ruling classes.

Well, I was disappointed. This was like a diamond necklace strung together with twine and then you see that some of the diamonds are actually tin foil. Two stories I was utterly drawn into – that of the eccentric WASP Charlotte Graves and her struggle against crass modernity and that of Nate Fuller, the half orphaned boy who is enthralled by the cold beauty and dominance of his neighbor Doug Fanning. It’s Doug Fanning that’s the problem. He is completely invulnerable and therefore completely uninteresting. It’s only at the end that he doesn’t seem like a plot driven robot, but with a man with something to lose. His ambition leads him to conceal a massive trading fraud and thus radically understate the third largest US bank’s capital. (Snore) We need to see what this means personally to him, and we don’t. There might be too much going on here. Two old rich white guys are involved in the plot but I kept having to turn back pages to figure out who was who.

The Fourth of July party, the scene where all the characters are brought together, is entertaining to read. But the main conflict is a sparkler and it needs to be a neutron bomb. Financial ruin in the abstract is a bore. But an old lady eating toast – now that can be interesting.

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