Despite the fact that fewer people are looking to traditional venues to guide their book selections (something Jane addressed earlier this week), it seems to me that a negative review still has significant capacity to do damage. I’m speaking in particular of Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic, a widely anticipated debut novel from the author of the much praised collection You Are Not a Stranger Here. The subhead in Michiko Kakutani’s February 7th New York Times review reads “A Lumpy, Disappointing Book.” Ouch. Although this does not accurately capture the whole of the review–the same sentence continues “at times, gripping and keenly observed”—I imagine that the folks over at Nan Talese/Doubleday were less than delighted. I read the book as an ARC over the summer and I admired, but did not love, the novel. The comparative coldness of its main characters (here criticized by Kakutani), however, seemed to capture something of the zeitgeist, the culture of corporate malfeasance and unabashed greed that precipitated the recent collapse of the financial industry.