Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion (Hardcover)
Jia Tolentino's first book of essays takes on topics from her fundamentalist upbringing and her teenage stint on an early aughts reality show (Boys vs. Girls) to 21st Century capitalism's push to make us all productive—and all of us products—in every spare moment. At the heart of the book is always our idea of the self, and our current misunderstanding of it. Am I my Instagram selfies? Are we the spandex in our athleisure? Even as she takes down mainstream feminism's acceptance of hours-long skincare regimes and barre exercise classes (not for a man, for 'me'), she allows for empathy and understanding for each of us, how we're all coping with what sometimes feels like the end of the world. Economic precarity, political unpredictability and impossible standards of beauty notwithstanding, Tolentino is still finding moments like church, moments of wonder, in everything from bio luminescence to the chopped and screwed Houston sound. And she's writing the hell out of all of it. —Leigh
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “From The New Yorker’s beloved cultural critic comes a bold, unflinching collection of essays about self-deception, examining everything from scammer culture to reality television.”—Esquire
Book Club Pick for Now Read This, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times • “A whip-smart, challenging book.”—Zadie Smith • “Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time.”—Vulture
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE’S JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST BOOK • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY AND HARVARD CRIMSON AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • Chicago Tribune • The Washington Post • NPR • Variety • Esquire • Vox • Elle • Glamour • GQ • Good Housekeeping • The Paris Review • Paste • Town & Country • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • BookRiot • Shelf Awareness
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.
FINALIST FOR THE PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD FOR THE ART OF THE ESSAY
About the Author
Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Raised in Texas, she studied at the University of Virginia before serving in Kyrgyzstan in the Peace Corps and receiving her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. She was a contributing editor at The Hairpin and the deputy editor at Jezebel, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Grantland, Pitchfork, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.
“It's easy to write about things as you wish they were—or as others tell you they must be. It's much harder to think for yourself, with the minimum of self-delusion. It's even harder to achieve at a moment like this, when our thoughts are subject to unprecedented manipulation, monetization, and surveillance. Yet Tolentino has managed to tell many inconvenient truths in Trick Mirror—and in enviable style. This is a whip-smart, challenging book that will prompt many of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror. It filled me with hope.”—Zadie Smith
“Dazzlingly wide-reaching essays.”—Vanity Fair
“The millennial Susan Sontag, a brilliant voice in cultural criticism. . . She remains engaged with her subjects even as she scratches her head and wonders why we do what we do. Even better: She writes like a dream.”—The Washington Post
“I worship at the altar of Jia Tolentino, who is undoubtedly the sharpest and most incisive cultural critic alive. Jia is a for-real genius, so damn funny it's absurd, and her ability to cut through all the noise to reveal the heart of the matter is unmatched. What a gift to the universe that, in Trick Mirror, one of the subjects is herself. This book is a master class in how to think about the world in 2019.”—Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
“In Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino’s thinking surges with a fierce, electric lyricism. Her mind is animated by rigor and compassion at once. She’s horrified by the world and also in love with it. Her truths are knotty but her voice is crystalline enough to handle them. She’s always got skin in the game; she knows we all do. Her intelligence is unrelenting and full-blooded, a heart beating inside every critique. She refuses easy morals, false binaries, and redemptive epiphanies, but all that refusal is in the service of something tender, humane, and often achingly beautiful—an exploration of what we long for, how we long for it, and all the stories we tell ourselves along the way.”—Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering
“It isn’t hyperbolic to say that New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time—writing about feminism, vaping, popular music, religion, and sexual assault with equal amounts of ease and insight. In her debut essay collection, the writer unveils nine new pieces that help cement her place in the essayist canon. She’s an expert in the sweet spot where contemporary politics and youth culture meet and make out.”—Vulture
“From The New Yorker’s beloved cultural critic comes a bold, unflinching collection of essays about self-deception, examining everything from scammer culture to reality television. Tolentino is among our age’s finest essayists, dissecting the foibles that animate our modern lives with wit, intellectual rigor, and empathy.”—Esquire
“Modern American life, especially as lived online, increasingly takes on qualities of insanity, even nightmare, and Trick Mirror has something profound to say about how that happened.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“It has been a consolation these last few years to know that no matter what was happening, Jia Tolentino would be writing about it, with a clear eye and a steady hand, a quick wit and a conscience, and in some of the best prose of her generation.”—Patricia Lockwood, author of Priestdaddy