Jia Tolentino seems to have absorbed the cultural battles of this century in such a way that her interpretations — all complexities intact — actually feel definitive. I don't know exactly how she does this but it makes me happy to know that there is an American writer under 40 who, while fully participating in the zeitgeist of her time, has a perspective on it that clearly demonstrates that she can call on our entire intellectual and moral heritage to make sense of it all. Recommended By Jason C., Powells.com
Jia Tolentino’s dazzling debut is one of the most fluid, insightful, and exciting essay collections that I’ve ever read. Comparisons to Joan Didion are both inevitable and totally deserved. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
I always look forward to Jia Tolentino’s byline, so I had high expectations for her new book — and she exceeded them. Individually and collectively, these essays provide an incisive glimpse into this brave new world we have wrought in a way that feels both timeless and incredibly fresh. Using the trappings of modern life (athleisure, reality TV, megachurches, scam artists, chopped salads, and so on) as a starting point, she explores the contradictions our society thrives on. Again and again she reveals the paradoxes of the capitalist patriarchy: the necessities marketed as aspirational luxuries, the false choices presented as viable options, the familiar subjugation rebranded as empowerment. She makes 10 points as handily as other writers make one. With Trick Mirror, Tolentino has distilled the chaos and pain of our uniquely American inequality into essays that are as powerful and illuminating as any I’ve ever read. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A breakout writer at The New Yorker examines the fractures at the center of contemporary culture with verve, deftness, and intellectual ferocity — for readers who've wondered what Susan Sontag would have been like if she had brain damage from the internet.
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.
"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
"Tolentino offers a millennial perspective that is deeply grounded, intellectually transcending her relative youth. She brings fresh perspective to current movements in a manner similar to that of Joan Didion in the 1960s and '70s. Exhilarating, groundbreaking essays that should establish Tolentino as a key voice of her generation." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"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...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
"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...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
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.
Jia Tolentino on PowellsBooks.Blog
They were independent. I mean, they were really
independent — more so than most adults. Harriet Welsch, in Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy
, had her friends Sport and Janie, and of course, she loved her nanny, Ole Golly, but she was happiest when she was snooping solo...