brent's book review: Union Atlantic

by Adam Haslett

This book has beautiful dust jacket. It's artistic and beautiful and printed on great paper. The whole way through this book I kept worrying I was hurting the dust jacket.

Of course, you're supposed to get lost in a book and not be worried about the dust jacket, and I just couldn't do it here. Everyone who reviewed this book, it seems, loved it. And the book is so timely! It's about a big bank that fails and has to get bailed out by the Federal Reserve, yet it was written before the financial crisis! Therefore, the reviewers said, it tells us something important about our times. Except it doesn't really. The author went to Yale Law School and he has a pretty basic liberal understanding of the world. Money is bad and the people who make and spend money are bad and we're all their slaves. That's true of course, but we all got that memo, even before the financial crisis. But the book isn't really about the financial crisis at all. The Bank doesn't get into real trouble until 2/3 of the way through. Instead it's about a group of characters who I just couldn't get that into. People who are sad self-medicate with money and we're meant, I suppose, to feel pity and condescension towards them even though they think of themselves as better than us. OK, I just don't have time for that. I finished the book only because (a) it was a gift from Nicole who read the same glowing reviews as I, and (b) I kept hoping something would happen. But by the time it did, I just didn't much care.

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