Trick Mirror: Reflection on Self-Delusion

Jia Tolentino. Random House, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-51054-3
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 [women] 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. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/14/2019
Release date: 08/06/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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