Trick Mirror

Trick Mirror

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 in a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Jia writes about the cultural prisms that have shaped her: the rise of the ni...

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Title:Trick Mirror
Author:Jia Tolentino
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Edition Language:English

Trick Mirror Reviews

  • Alice

    I had to take breaks between these essays. They are so sharp and juicy and confronting, and needed time to absorb. This is the kind of book that makes you want to avoid reading anything else for a while, so that its ideas can keep ping-ponging around your brain undiluted. Between the waves of dread and horror at what the world (and more specifically, my own generation) has become, this book has also given me a thread of hope and clarity as to how I might change my habits, expectations, and value

    I had to take breaks between these essays. They are so sharp and juicy and confronting, and needed time to absorb. This is the kind of book that makes you want to avoid reading anything else for a while, so that its ideas can keep ping-ponging around your brain undiluted. Between the waves of dread and horror at what the world (and more specifically, my own generation) has become, this book has also given me a thread of hope and clarity as to how I might change my habits, expectations, and values for the better, attempting some degree of escape from the raging mess that we all watch and participate in almost constantly through our screens..

  • Claire Reads Books

    Fantastic ✨ The nine essays in this razor-sharp collection circle around the notions of identity and the self that have become all-important and inescapable in the Internet era. With remarkable clarity and her formidable intellect, Tolentino highlights the distortions and self-delusions that have festered on digital platforms and begun to spread into our analog lives—and she considers the intellectual rewiring that might be necessary to free us from our overinflated selves. Highly recommended –

    Fantastic ✨ The nine essays in this razor-sharp collection circle around the notions of identity and the self that have become all-important and inescapable in the Internet era. With remarkable clarity and her formidable intellect, Tolentino highlights the distortions and self-delusions that have festered on digital platforms and begun to spread into our analog lives—and she considers the intellectual rewiring that might be necessary to free us from our overinflated selves. Highly recommended –

  • Morgan Schulman

    I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review

    An intellectual stream-of-consciousness meander through every facet of popular culture, some twists more interesting than others, but all insightful and rewarding.

  • Blair

    I don't know if I’m going to have the time to write about this in the depth I would like, so I will just say that I finished

    feeling I’d probably read any article Jia Tolentino writes about any topic, and I’d

    read her memoirs. The personal stories woven through these essays bring the book to vibrant life. The autobiographical essays tend to be the strongest, particularly ‘Reality TV Me’, in which Tolentino revisits her experience of competing on a TV show at the age of 16

    I don't know if I’m going to have the time to write about this in the depth I would like, so I will just say that I finished

    feeling I’d probably read any article Jia Tolentino writes about any topic, and I’d

    read her memoirs. The personal stories woven through these essays bring the book to vibrant life. The autobiographical essays tend to be the strongest, particularly ‘Reality TV Me’, in which Tolentino revisits her experience of competing on a TV show at the age of 16 (this essay could easily pass as a brilliant short story); ‘We Come from Old Virginia’, in which she reckons with the controversial history of her alma mater, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and ‘Ecstasy’, about religion and drugs, in which she writes hypnotically about the woozy hip-hop subgenre of ‘chopped and screwed’.

    I can’t remember the last time I read non-fiction and came away with such a fierce sense of the author

    which, I think, is partly because Tolentino is so unlike the cliche: raised in an evangelical megachurch in the American south; a straight-A student as a teenager, but also a cheerleader and a reality TV star; blithely, unapologetically open about her past and current drug use. It's not just that she’s a happy extrovert – though this in itself is unusual enough to stand out as memorable – but that this aspect of her character shines bright through her writing (without obscuring it). Indeed, it’s not the subjects of the essays that really leave an impression, but the way Tolentino writes around them, and the impression they create of the author as a luminous person, full of impossible confidence both as an individual and in her craft – someone I am ravenously jealous of.

    So, yes, this is a collection of essays about modern society and pop culture by a young female writer, and there are many other examples of that kind of thing. You might feel there are already enough of them in the world; that this one doesn’t need your attention. But I can also honestly say I have never read anything quite like

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  • Sarah

    It took me a while to get used to Jia Tolentino's style of writing (the essays jump around a bit at times and get a little stream of consciousness-y) but there are some real gems in this collection. For me she's at her best when talking about social media, gender, women and media, but I found something to admire or enjoy in almost all of the essays in this personal collection.

  • David Wineberg

    Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror is particularly difficult to review. It failed me, but I know with total certainty that it will be praised as precious in many quarters. So I have to appreciate it for what it is, and not what it didn’t do for me. It will appeal to a large and specific audience, and that needs to be recognized in any review of it. I learned this from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who, to my young amazement, gave an Arnold Schwarzenegger film their thumbs-up, knowing that it had no plo

    Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror is particularly difficult to review. It failed me, but I know with total certainty that it will be praised as precious in many quarters. So I have to appreciate it for what it is, and not what it didn’t do for me. It will appeal to a large and specific audience, and that needs to be recognized in any review of it. I learned this from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who, to my young amazement, gave an Arnold Schwarzenegger film their thumbs-up, knowing that it had no plot, terrible writing, poor acting and no redeeming values. But they recognized it would be a blockbuster film that satisfied millions of fans, who would quote it endlessly for months. There was no point judging it by any other standards. So while what I say next can be construed as criticism, let me plant the firm notion that it is not criticism. It is description.

    The book is a collection of nine new essays. They are founded in memoirs, and flower into surveys of the literature and associations on the topic. Most of the topics are feminist. The essays often wander, but rarely dive. They skim; they remain largely superficial. Tolentino loves to drop names from pop culture, which readers should still recognize today, and relate to, but which will make the book unreadable in a few years, as all those people are forgotten. She doesn’t like introducing people or giving their credentials, but finds them authoritative nonetheless. She interviewed no one for this book.

    Tolentino goes broad but usually not deep. She is all about headlines. For many readers, this will be revelation enough, but Tolentino breaks no new ground, leaves no lasting suggestion, and will change no one’s perspective. It is rather a demonstration of her ability to assimilate the state of the culture, and she demonstrates it very well. She writes with a firm hand.

    She doesn’t demonstrate a new way to look at the world. There are no new takeaways from this book. It largely lacks humor, except perhaps for the essay on weddings. Tolentino doesn’t stake out a persona for herself like other feminist writers do. Outside of her continuing defense and mourning of Hillary Clinton, she remains fair and neutral - for an admitted left-leaner.

    The best chapter is the one on sexual harassment. She explores it from numerous vantage points, discusses a major case of false claims, and the conundrum of how to tackle the problem, which her own school failed at, famously and miserably (though it won $3 million in a suit against Rolling Stone).

    There is a chapter on fictional heroines, where Tolentino often resorts to simply listing books that have heroines. She quotes fictional heroines as if their lines were Truth. The essay shows she is an avid reader, but not much more.

    She was a contestant in a TV reality show while in high school, and doubles the length of the essay about it with endless pointless synopses from the show, which has been long forgotten (along with the cable network that aired it). Once, she was recognized in a store in a mall.

    This is the second book I have reviewed of memoirs from someone too young to write them (Tolentino is now 30. The other was 27). I don’t think people under 30 have the perspective to do justice to even their own lives. Basically, it is too early to wax nostalgic about the 2000s.

    Too predictably, Trick Mirror focuses on growing up (in Houston), the internet (she was hooked at the age of ten), school (a Baptist megachurch), college (UVA Charlottesville), the constant pressure to look good, drugs (party variety) and weddings (she has spent $35k on other people’s weddings). A typical middle-class American life. Sadly, there is only a page on her perspective-changing year in the Peace Corps (in very Islamic Kyrgyzstan). It would have made the best essay.

    To her immense credit, Tolentino uses these events and eras as launch pads to go on rants and tirades about religion, date rape, feminism, and politics. So far more than simply memoirs, Trick Mirror adds value. Not new value, but value nonetheless.

    David Wineberg

  • Ash

    I've been waiting for this book! She's written so many great, important things, but my favorite is still this review of

    .

  • Bailey

    Jia Tolentino has been the realest deal for a while and this book cements it. She's like Cheryl Strayed's intensely empathetic understanding of humanity meets what it means to be a millennial (remember, we are aged 25-38 now), and the connections she makes are affirming and scorching at the same time. Jia has a long track ahead of her and this is just the start.

    **Should be noted I work for the publisher but this is my personal opinion.

  • Melanie

    I'd read Jia Tolentino's grocery lists if she let me.

  • Oriana

    Oh man, Jia is one of my favorite writers working right now. Did you read her

    on religion, drugs, and growing up in Houston's "Repentacon"? Holy goddamn it is phenomenal.

    A pal got me a proof of this beauty which arrived yesterday, a few hours before I got on a plane to Cali for a biz trip. What a perfectly timed marvel.

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