The second novel by American novelist Hernan Diaz is a matryoshka of stories about a New York financial tycoon in the 20s and 30s. “Trust” presents four aspects of the aloof monetary titan’s biography. The first, an unauthorized biography, relates how the mastermind builds his fortune and then blossoms during the 1929 Crash, possibly contributing to the crash. A second short tale seems closer to the subject, then we’re placed in the reflections of a female writer who had begun to ghost write an official version. A final set of diary entries upends all the other accounts. The author segues smoothly into the new voice and masterfully depicts the world of high finance circa 1930, and the novel can also be read as a barbed indictment of financial engineering. But the main concern of Trust is the nature of retrospective storytelling and the power of money to warp truth.
During the reading, other novels, never identifying themselves, seemed to hover behind the words I read. I realized Trust is a very old-style novel, that of retellings and retellings. As a mystery genre reader, the climactic twist was no shock at all, but I still enjoyed witnessing the author patiently unveil the truth.
Truth is a fascinating puzzle book that flows like water. Recommended.