TRICK MIRROR by Jia Tolentino

From the Jacket

Jia Tolentino is a peerless voice of her generation, tackling the conflicts, contradictions, and sea changes that define us and our time.  Now, in this dazzling collection of nine entirely original essays, written with a rare combination of give and sharpness, wit and fearlessness, she delves into the forces that warp our vision, demonstrating an unparalleled stylistic potency and critical dexterity.

TRICK MIRROR is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives.  This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self.  In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die.  Gleaming with Tolentino’s sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the reader with profound honesty, TRICK MIRROR is an instant classic of the worst decade yet.

My Thoughts

One of my reading goals for this year is to read more nonfiction, but I hadn’t even thought about doing so until I came across Jia Tolentino’s brand new essay collection.  Tolentino is absolutely incredible; I had heard of her before and even read some of her New Yorker pieces, but I had no idea she had such a cult following until I saw the massive line of people waiting to hear her speak at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn.  Now that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and enjoying TRICK MIRROR, I will constantly be on the lookout for more of her work!

“The freedom I want is located in a world where we wouldn’t need to love women, or even monitor our feelings about women as meaningful—in which we wouldn’t need to parse the contours of female worth and liberation by paying meticulous personal attention to any of this at all.”

Normally, with essay collections, there are some essays I like and some I don’t particularly care for, but TRICK MIRROR shines with nine essays I loved.  Standouts for me include “Pure Heroines,” which I loved for its discussion of female main characters in literature, and “Ecstasy,” which I related to on a spiritual level.  I also loved “The I in Internet;” in the process of reading this essay, I actually deactivated my Twitter account–something I’d been thinking about doing for a while–so you could say reading TRICK MIRROR has been a life-changing experience for me!

I read TRICK MIRROR slowly over the course of a few weeks; I wanted to savour Jia’s words and give myself time to really digest what she had to say.  With her distinctly witty voice, sharp prose, and timely subject matter, Tolentino’s debut collection is brilliant and I could not recommend it enough!

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