Hernan Diaz’s second novel, “Trust,” is four books in one. Our reviewer, Michael Gorra, calls it “intricate, cunning and consistently surprising.” It starts with a novel inside the novel, about a man named Benjamin Rask, who builds and maintains a fortune in New York City as the 19th century gives way to the 20th. Diaz describes writing the uniquely structured book on this week’s podcast, and the ideas at its core.
“Although wealth and money are so essential in the American narrative about itself as a nation, and occupy this almost transcendental place in our culture, I was rather surprised to see that there are precious few novels that deal with money itself,” Diaz says. “Sure, there are many novels that deal with class — we were talking about Henry James and Edith Wharton a moment ago — or with exploitation or with excess and luxury and privilege. Many examples of that, but very few examples of novels dealing with money and the process of the accumulation of a great fortune.”
Paul Fischer visits the podcast to discuss “The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures,” which is about Louis Le Prince, who made what is now widely acknowledged to be the first known moving picture, and the story of his mysterious disappearance as well.
“What was fascinating about Le Prince — and what I really loved as a film nerd myself — is that he seems to have been the first one of that generation to really have a vision for what the medium could be,” Fischer says. “There were a lot of people, like Thomas Edison or the Lumière brothers, who were working on moving-image projects as a kind of novelty toy. Their idea was, this can make a little bit of money, at least for a while, and then it will fade away. And there were people, like Eadweard Muybridge or the French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey, who were scientists and really thought moving images would be a way to deconstruct the way our bodies work, the way things move, the way nature worked. And Le Prince was really the first to write in his notebooks and speak to his family about this medium as something that would change the way we related to reality.”
Also on this week’s episode, Gregory Cowles and Elisabeth Egan talk about what they’ve been reading. John Williams is the host.
Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:
“Music, Late and Soon” by Robyn Sarah
“French Braid” by Anne Tyler
“Poguemahone” by Patrick McCabe
“The Butcher Boy” by Patrick McCabe
We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.