AIs money real?” asks the economist at the center of Hernan Diaz’s Booker-longlisted second novel. His answer is “fiction” – specifically, the “fiction of money”. value of each asset since we buy its public record. If we do not believe that the banknote “represents real assets”, it is a printed piece of paper, open to distortion in nature a story, or a note, or a diary.
The Trust invests in the following three types of documents. Like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Richard Powers’s The Overstory, his style relies on intertwining stories that deepen and disrupt each other. Diaz’s first novel, the Pulitzer prize finalist In the Distance, is about a young Swedish teenager who teams up with kidnappers and drug dealers in California. In Trust, he constructed a postmodern version of a historical novel about a character at the opposite end of the wealth scale – a Gatsby-like tycoon in 1920s New York who hosts lavish parties where so that he cannot be seen. His name is Andrew Bevel, a man who became “a rich man by playing the part of a rich man”. At his side is his long-suffering wife, Mildred, a figure that sometimes reminds me of Zelda Fitzgerald. The Bevels’ marriage is built around a “principle of quiet contentment”, an oddity for them that is “common to most exchanges”. If every real estate story is a crime story – a story of whodunnit, how and why – the central heist in Trust is the Wall Street crash of 1929. By embracing the American spirit of “fraud and you can do it”, Bevel realized that the financial crisis was more valuable to him. In fact, some New Yorkers are starting to say that’s why.
There’s nothing rich people love more than a scandal – a chance to take the reins of history out of their hands. Diaz’s own house did this. The first part of Trust is a novel-within-a-novel: a fictional account of the life of a New York powerhouse. But that is only the setting for the second part of the book, which presents itself as Mr Bevel’s own autobiography. Like all nonsense by millionaires, the reason is to “talk and deny” the stories about him, to set the record straight once and for all. What unfolded was a delivery of a famous memoir, complete with a generic title and self-aggrandizement (My Life), a heavy weight of lies (“my wife is so soft, so good for this world”), and is sometimes seen in a non-capitalist mindset (“what matters is the number of our actions, not the stories about us”). As Bevel’s final chapters descend into familiar narratives about the next dimension, we see this big shot mercilessly self-explanatory to end (“WHOLE SECTION: ‘thick clouds’?”).
The third chapter of Diaz’s book brings another change of climate: it is the story of a young Brooklyn woman who meets an elderly financier during the Great Depression, and spends to help tell his story. Now we’re starting to think we’re getting a Citizen Kane-style mystery leading up to the book: who has been this tycoon, really? And his wife is just an accessory in his hand? But the fourth and final chapter of the story pulls the rug out from under us one last time, giving us excerpts from Mildred’s long-running diary. Confidence raises questions of authorship and responsibility at every turn: when did wealth become the defining feature of every American success story? What values and values can be assigned to the “Great Man” theory of history? And to whom do those people owe a lot? If you imagine a combination of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, the journals of Virginia Woolf, JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, and Ryan Gosling breaking the fourth wall in The Big Short, you’ll get You have an idea of the hybrid Diaz has created. .
It may be mentioned that Diaz started his writing life with an academic essay about Jorges Luis Borges, who first wrote that money represents a “panoply of futures”. Borgesian playfulness infuses all aspects of Trust, with a hint of Italo Calvino’s love of exploring the different aspects of an idea or a city. Through well-placed words and a lack of understanding of facts, Trust created a large image of New York during a century of change – a metropolis that was “the capital of the era” future”, but the citizens are “nostalgic in nature”. It’s a city that, in other words, looks forward to the past at the same time – like any place that combines old money and new money. Confidence is full of ironies and can sometimes be unexpected. But it is a work that has real power and purpose. It invites us to think about why the part of the mental game that we as a group pay so much to play in the financial markets, often at a heavy price. It’s a testament to Diaz’s crafty abilities as a writer that you finish his book with the feeling that – if truth is your goal – it’s better to trust the novelist than the banker.