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Trick Mirror

Trick Mirror

"In her brutal and apt 1980 takedown of Joan Didion, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison dismisses Didion's existential bent towards the interior and the ludicrous—the 'mirror'—versus the Existentialists' investment in the absurd—the 'void'. 'Reports from the mirror,' she says, 'are likely to be jaundiced, puling, and debilitating; reports from the void can. . . inspire courage and the will to act.' Jia Tolentino, one of the best and most singular essayists working today, has been called this generation's Didion for good reason, elegantly recording the crumbling infrastructure of America/reality, training the delicious subjectivity of her 'I' on everything from Juuling to rape culture. She does Joan one better by honestly dissecting that subjectivity: examining her own privilege or lack thereof as it informs her perspective, her own implication in the raveling web of consumption that we find ourselves suspended in. Her view from the mirror is debilitating only in its accuracy, the shudder of recognition both pleasurable and fearsome. She is luminously funny, and humane, and wise enough to assert that in a world that simultaneously puts so high a premium and so low a worth on the individual experience, the mirror and the void are fused inextricably. There is nothing we can see accurately, including a better future, without first learning how the contours of our sight are shaped by contradiction, and want, and the grinding machinery of capitalism. Does that make it sound like this book isn't fun? It's fun too, like skipping school to bullshit at the mall with your smartest friend, and learning more in the process than you would have in class anyway."

Lauren A.

See all my recommendations »

Author Jia Tolentino
Publisher Random House
Publication Date 2019
Section Essays / New Hardcover - Nonfiction / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Lauren A.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780525510543

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
“A whip-smart, challenging book.”—Zadie Smith • “Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time.”—Vulture

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.

Praise for Trick Mirror

“Jia Tolentino is the best young essayist at work in the United States, one I’ve consistently admired and learned from, and I was exhilarated to get a whole lot of her at once in Trick Mirror. In these nine essays, she rethinks troubling ingredients of modern life, from the internet to mind-altering drugs to wedding culture. All through the book, single sentences flash like lightning to show something familiar in a startling way, but she also builds extended arguments with her usual, unusual blend of lyricism and skepticism. In the end, we have a picture of America that was as missing as it was needed.”—Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me

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