Trust by Hernan Diaz: Book club – bending and aligning reality

. . . if money is fiction, finance capital is the fiction of a fiction


Apart from reading books that you might never have picked up, book club also sometimes demands that you read books again. You can see my first review of Trust here. I never reread books so this is a real challenge for me but I am starting to see how you can read a book differently once you have read it for a first time. You can pick up on things that you noticed but didn’t go back and follow-up. Or, you can have such good questions asked of you by the group that it forces you to go back and think again. One of the questions that we were asked before the meeting was

How does and doesn’t Bevel resemble Trump?

Well, I hadn’t even made the link with Trump so that set me off down a rabbit hole of investigation as I reread. Eventually, I came up with a set of statements which could be applied to Rask, Trump or the book as a whole.

  • believes truth is no longer bound by facts
  • historical elements are fictionalised
  • rejects the idea of one narrative to explain
  • conflicting or contradictory viewpoints/beliefs are held
  • multiple narrators to show the subjectivity of truth
  • challenges stories we have been told
  • challenges the belief that everything written down must be true
  • paranoia narratives used
  • twists narratives
  • relishes and creates chaos
  • uses fragments and soundbites
  • identity is based on performance rather than reality
  • more concerned about the effect of the scene than the truth of the scene
  • enjoys spreading conspiracy theories
  • are the antiheroes of the story (the goodies and baddies become less distinguishable)
  • emphasis on marketing and selling and consumption rather than production
  • money is the all-organising force
  • money is an effective way to subjugate women
  • it is the duty of others to satisfy their needs but others must not approach them with their needs
  • their wealth was based on theft of land, means of production and human lives.
  • Lived in a building that is kitsch

“My job is about being right. Always. If ever I am wrong, I must make use of all means and resources to bend and align reality according to my mistake so that it ceases to be a mistake.”


Trust is a book about accumulating wealth, which is rare. Most stories about money start with the idea of the money already made and focus on what the wealthy do. And what follows is the creation of money and fortunes usually involve criminality or behaviour which is hard to justify at their inception and therefore need to be surrounded by narratives that legitimise them. At its simplest level this could be the sponsoring of a wing in a museum or a room – think of the Sackler fortune and how that was created on the back of addiction and drug misuse by doctors.

The book is also an exploration of how fiction affects real life. There has to be irony in the fact that Ida gets the work with Bevel because she lied when asked to write her autobiography as part of the interveiw process, showing that she is ideal for his employment. She, by her own words, comes from a father who was a spirited storyteller who ‘seldom hesitated to sacrifice truth for effect’. Ida also sees all her stories filtered through the lens of Bevel and her father. As Ida starts to work for Bevel, her boyfriend, a supposed journalist, becomes cross that she is on her own with a business man and Ida lets him know that she is not asking him to trust her or will say anything to appease him and in doing so sounds like Bevel. We start to go round and round in stories about Bevel as she makes up yet another one to give to a man she thinks is from the FBI who wants to know what she is working on. There are more circles within circles when we discover Bevel telling Ida a story about his wife that Ida had written about them.

. . . in the fictional world I had created for him, Bevel had added a scene of his making where he reacted to his wife exactly like my father had to me in real life.


I think this makes Ida’s story the tipping or turning point of the book and for the question we will be asked to discuss about who is the main character, I am going to answer Ida for it is her stories in book 2 and 3 and her translation of the journal in book 4 that reveal the ‘truths’.

So, does Bevel resemble Trump, which is where we started? Yes, because Bevel is a postmodernist financier, there is a large debate about whether Trump was a postmodernist president and the book is postmodern. The next question is what is postmodernism in literature.

The following attachment lists some of the features of postmodernism and then I have added detail about how Bevel, Trump and the book fit these characteristics.

So, fiction rather than presenting us with truthful content, shows us how to experience truth. To understand and accept reality as it is at that point in time, to compare, judge and dismiss until we have arrived at what we understand the truth to be.

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