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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The subtitle “Reflections on Self-Delusion” accurately describes the sardonic feel of New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino’s thought-provoking and enthralling essay collection. Tolentino is fascinated by the hot-button topics of the late 2010s: sexual harassment, feminism, social media, evangelical religion, white supremacy. Her take on these subjects is always intensely personal, from the hilarious story of her brief stint on an early reality TV show to a detailed accounting of how much money the wedding industry has cost her over the last decade. Like a millennial Joan Didion, Tolentino captures the seriocomic malaise of her generation with wit and empathy.
New Yorker contributor Tolentino debuts with a sharp, well-founded crackdown on the lies of self and culture in these nine original, incisive reflections on a hypercapitalist, internet-driven age that "positions personal identity as the center of the universe." While some essays peel back personal self-delusions such as by recalling, in "Always Be Optimizing," how taking barre classes for fitness gave her the "satisfying but gross sense of having successfully conformed to a prototype" others comment on broader cultural movements with frightening accuracy, for instance noting in "Pure Heroines" that "bravery and bitterness get so concentrated in literature, for women, because there's not enough space for in the real world," or that the election of Donald Trump represents the "incontrovertible, humiliating vindication of scamming as the quintessential American ethos." The collection's chief strength is Tolentino's voice: sly, dry, and admittedly complicit in an era where "the choice...is to be destroyed or to morally compromise ourselves in order to be functional." While the insights aren't revelatory, the book's candid self-awareness and well-formulated prose, and Tolentino's ability to voice the bitterest truths "Everything, not least the physical world itself, is overheating" will gain Tolentino new fans and cement her reputation as an observer well worth listening to.