July 2022 Book Review -- "Trust"
In this era of ‘truthiness’ when competing information sources present very different realities, we may find ourselves questioning whose version of facts we believe. When there are conflicting histories, which do we trust and, in the end, does it matter? Pulitzer Prize winning author Hernan Diaz’ new novel insists we look to the source material.
Who gets to tell your story? Ultimately, does it matter? In his new novel, Trust, Hernan Diaz introduces us to one character, Mildred Bevel, in four disparate accounts, illustrating the vast divide between perspectives.
In this uniquely structured fiction, Diaz introduces us to Mildred in the early days of 20th century New York. First, through a fiction-within-a-fiction novel clearly based on Mildred, the novelist portrays a complex, mysterious, dynamic woman whose relationship to her husband’s extreme wealth is complicated. The fictional author depicts a crisis of conscious for fictional Mildred as the Great Depression grips New York City while her husband’s wealth continues to grow.
Next, we are introduced to the Mildred her financial giant husband wants us to see. In his ghost-written memoir, Mildred is his charming, sweet, childlike wife who staved off boredom by hosting quaint little artist gatherings. In Andrew Bevel’s telling, he patronized her love of the arts to keep her days filled while his financial genius saved the nation’s capital markets from themselves.
Then we meet Ida Prevenza who has ghost written Andrew Bevel’s memoir and, in the process, has begun the search for the real Mildred Bevel. In this section we gain perspective not only on Mildred but on Ida herself. The ghost writer Ida and the philanthropist Mildred have a great deal in common; it turns out although almost mirror images of each other. It is Ida who insists, ultimately, on sleuthing out the real Mildred Bevel.
In the final section, we find ourselves with Mildred’s own secret diary. Most of it is indecipherable code, but Ida is eventually able to translate and what she finds is the source material that introduces us to the actual person we have now met from three other perspectives.
So who gets to tell our story? Which version of the truth is accepted into the annals of history and accepted as fact? Does it matter? Hernan Diaz novel, Trust, examines each of those questions in an original storytelling structure.
Trust, by Hernan Diaz, is available today at your public libraries. For KPCW, this is Cathy Lanigan.