BB-Reader Review: "Trust"
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BB-Reader Review: "Trust"
Reader Review: "Trust"

by Cathryn Conroy (Gaithersburg, Maryland): When it comes to reading novels, who do you trust? I'm not sure I ever before thought about this question in such direct terms, but that's the underlying premise of this remarkable novel by Hernan Diaz, which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Literature (shared with "Demon Copperhead," by Barbara Kingsolver) and longlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize.
Set in the 1920s and 1930s in New York City, this is the story of (fictional) tycoon Andrew Bevel, a man who accomplished the most amazing financial feat: He beat the market just before October 1929, turning his stocks and bonds into cash weeks before the crash that led to the Great Depression. He spent his entire adult life beating the market, figuring out nuances and tricks to always come out on top—nuances and tricks that no one else could copy. But he is a cold, uncaring man who avoids society, has no real friends, and who is only made more human when he marries Mildred. This is not only a novel about Andrew Bevel's life and work, but also it's a novel about money—the ways it serves, benefits, and corrupts.
The book, which is described as a literary puzzle, is written in four distinct parts: 1. "Bonds," a novel by Harold Vanner that not only ruthlessly tells the story of Bevel and his wife (using different names), alleging that Bevel's wife went insane and he had a role in her death, but also reveals the secrets of how Bevel accumulated his money.
2. "My Life," the rough first draft of an unfinished and unpublished memoir by Andrew Bevel that sets the record straight after Vanner's hateful, hurtful, and fabricated novel.
3. In "A Memoir, Remembered," Ida Partenza, Bevel's private secretary who was the ghost writer for his memoir, writes her own memoir of that experience 50 years later.
4. "Futures," by Mildred Bevel, Andrew's wife, who finally gets to tell her side of the story after being maligned by Vanner and sugar-coated as a quiet aesthete by her husband. In this diary that she kept in the last weeks of her life she makes a big confession…one that would horrify her husband if it were ever made public.
Which one of these is the truth? Which one should the reader trust? All four pieces and parts have one thing in common: They focus on the meaning of family, the untold power and pain of extraordinary wealth, the moral devastation of greed, and the ultimate price of unfettered ambition.
This masterfully written book is highly imaginative and creative with a multilayered plot that I found riveting. But it's so much more than that as it expounds ever so stealthily on all the things money can do—from benefiting those who need it most to corrupting one's very soul.
And when it comes to telling our stories and reading about others, who is telling the truth? Is the truth the persona revealed to the public? Or is the truth the story only you can tell about yourself?
Who would you trust to tell your story?

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