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08/19/2019 | by admin
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
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Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino details:
- File Size: 1181 KB
- Format: pdf, epub, mobi, rtf, docx, audiobook
- Download/read online ebook
- Print Length: 303 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0008294933
- Publisher: Random House (August 6, 2019)
- Publication Date: August 6, 2019
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07L2JGLZ9
eBook summary Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (read online…)
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 nightmare social internet; the American scammer as millennial hero; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the mandate that everything, including our bodies, should always be getting more efficient and beautiful until we die.
“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. Yet Tolentino has managed to tell many inconvenient truths in Trick Mirror—and in enviable style. 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
“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. What a gift to the universe that, in Trick Mirror, one of the subjects is herself. 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
“In Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino’s thinking surges with a fierce, electric lyricism. Her mind is animated by rigor and compassion at once. She’s horrified by the world and also in love with it. Her truths are knotty but her voice is crystalline enough to handle them. She’s always got skin in the game; she knows we all do. Her intelligence is unrelenting and full-blooded, a heart beating inside every critique. She refuses easy morals, false binaries, and redemptive epiphanies, but all that refusal is in the service of something tender, humane, and often achingly beautiful—an exploration of what we long for, how we long for it, and all the stories we tell ourselves along the way.”—Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering
“It isn’t hyperbolic to say that New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time—writing about feminism, vaping, popular music, religion, and sexual assault with equal amounts of ease and insight. In her debut essay collection, the writer unveils nine new pieces that help cement her place in the essayist canon. She’s an expert in the sweet spot where contemporary politics and youth culture meet and make out.”—Vulture
“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. Tolentino is among our age’s finest essayists, dissecting the foibles that animate our modern lives with wit, intellectual rigor, and empathy.”—Esquire
“Modern American life, especially as lived online, increasingly takes on qualities of insanity, even nightmare, and Trick Mirror has something profound to say about how that happened.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“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
“Exhilarating, groundbreaking essays that should establish Tolentino as a key voice of her generation.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Lucid and enlightening, the essays of Jia Tolentino’s debut collection Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion consider what it means for Millennial women to navigate a culture of spectacle, scam, and oppression. In sharp prose across nine essays Tolentino takes on everything from the troubling rise of athleisure to America’s obsession with reality television, difficult women, and weddings; sketching brilliant fragments of cultural history for the digital age, the author demystifies perplexing trends and passionately critiques a society overtaken by rampant racism and misogyny. As with her articles for the New Yorker, Tolentino laces her essays with caustic wit, and she clearly explains and makes accessible complex works of social theory, without stripping concepts of their nuance. All the pieces are brilliant and invite rereading.
Recently my rad friend B and I got into it about Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, which I loudly do not like. B argued that it was wrong of me to judge it so harshly because I was not taking into account the deep biases I bring to my own reading. I remain unrepentant because those essays are extremely bad, but I do acknowledge that I am only a combination of my life’s influences: I grew up solidly middle-class, I am a cis-het woman and a Jew of European heritage, I went to a good liberal arts college, and white American intellectual values are the waters in which I have always steeped. So perhaps when I say something utterly subjective like “those essays are extremely bad,” I do only mean that they’re bad to me, and if I were a queer black woman like B, raised and taught and influenced in different ways, all my opinions would be completely different.
Be that as it may, I still am me, I still have the same brain and biases, and I will tell you this: Jia Tolentino is exactly everything I fucking love. This book (to me!) is basically perfect—devastatingly smart and endlessly fascinating and filled with essays that work, that interrogate the modern condition from every angle and leave you gasping with new comprehensions. They are deeply researched and wildly illuminating and also even funny, sometimes, when they’re not devastating or brutal or so intense you have to put the book down and go take a dazed walk to let your brain synapses cool their firings.
Anyway, you don’t really need me to tell you about Jia’s brilliance, right? I mean, she’s written and edited everywhere, from the Hairpin to Jezebel to now the New Yorker (which excerpted one of this book’s best essays: “Losing Religion and Finding Ecstacy in Houston”). As of this moment, her release week, she’s on a press blitz so thorough that it’s the subject of its ownroundups and memes. If you don’t feel like scrolling through, find herprofiled on Elle, interviewed on the Paris Review, and reviewed on Vanity Fair; see her food picks on Grub Street, her skincare routine on In the Gloss, and her dog on Jezebel. I could go on.
But you’re here, so go ahead and listen to me talk about this book some more. To wit: In one essay she writes about how the internet has fundamentally reoriented the truth so that what’s important now is only what’s important to me (“The everyday madness perpetuated by the internet positions personal identity as the center of the universe”). In another, she dissects the perpetual burden of being an ideal woman in the days of self-optimization, managing to tie together chopped salads (“the perfect mid-day nutritional replenishment for the mid-level modern knowledge worker”), Barre classes (“the rapid-fire series of positions and movements resemble what a ballerina might do if you concussed her and then made her snort caffeine pills”), and athleisure (“tailor-made for a time when work is rebranded as pleasure so we will accept more of it”).
She writes explosively about the harrowing history of racism and rape at the University of Virginia, her alma matter, linking the recent ill-fated and retracted Rolling Stone piece about fraternity rape all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and Saly Hemings—in fact, no, all the way back to ancient European “youthful war bands”: wealthy young men who donned wolf hides and roved the forests looking for maidens to snatch, until they came of age and went home to find wives. She also writes about “difficult women” in a piece that considers everyone from Kim Kardashian to Madonna to Hope Hicks (“I feel as if feminist praxis has turned to acid and eaten through the floor. It’s as if what’s signified—sexism itself—has remained so intractable that we’ve mostly given up on rooting out its actual workings.”).
She also writes about the lie of the literary heroine, the history of the conman, the Fyre Festival, her time on a reality show as a teenager, corporate feminism, recoiling at the idea of marriage, and who even knows, everything else under the fucking sun. She is so smart and so savvy and so, so good, and I hope she’s already at work on her next collection, because I cannot believe I’ll have to go back to reading other people’s essays now.
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.
Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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 Trick Mirror feeling I’d probably read any article Jia Tolentino writes about any topic, and I’d definitely 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’.
Chopped and screwed mimics the lean feeling—a heady and dissociative security, as if you’re moving very slowly towards a conclusion you don’t need to understand. It induces a sense of permissive disorientation that melds perfectly to Houston, a place where a full day can pass in time-lapse without you ever getting off the highway, where the caustic gleam of daytime melts into a fluorescent polluted sunset and then into a long and swampy night.
I can’t remember the last time I read non-fiction and came away with such a fierce sense of the author as a person, 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 Trick Mirror.
I received an advance review copy of Trick Mirror from the publisher throughNetGalley.
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 – full review here.
*Advance copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley; all opinions are my own.
I really loved this. I’ve been reading Jia Tolentino’s stuff ever since she started at Jezebel- we’re roughly the same age and she got assigned stuff I was guaranteed to click on, so I’ve read a fair amount. Some of her NYer pieces were even better, after she was freed from needing to write in Internet witty speak all the time and could show other tricks and styles she had up her sleeve. And I’d say those two voices and experiences are about equally on display here, to mostly utterly fantastic effect.
Seriously though, some of this was straight up brilliant. “The I in Internet” and “Always Be Optimizing,” should be read in college classes and debated on tv by public intellectuals, if this country had such a thing. (“Optimizing” in particular hit me where I lived and I read it several times over. There’s a great excerpt of it in The Guardian from a few weeks ago that you should all check out.) I thought “Story of a Generation in Seven Scams” was a really well laid out argument for why a lot of millennials’ politics and choices in their own lives may have turned out the way they did, given the parade of lies and con jobs that was the years of our awakening to political consciousness-from the Iraq War to the financial crisis to Amazon to bogus VC firms to the student debt crisis to our current president. When you put it all together like that I hope at least a few Boomer heads hang in shame. “The Cult of the Difficult Woman” was strong too. I loved the part where she tried to start a hard conversation around criticizing the appearance of conservative spokeswomen as a crucial part of the work they do in defending the ideas they’re paid to defend- and how sometimes looks can be up for discussion, with a point behind the observation that is relevant beyond as hominem attacks.
I respected the attempt to come to terms with her teenage choice to go on reality TV in “Reality TV Me” but while she made a good start, the essay ultimately failed at its apparent intentions of being honest with herself- she ended on a note of defending her actions and pointing out her specialness despite everything. It’s a hard task, I know, but maybe she needed to wait a few more years to disconnect a bit more? I thought Ecstasy had some lovely lines and images because she’s a fantastic writer but was somewhat overwrought and made a not very original point about the feelings produced by drugs and religion having a lot in common. Pure Heroines was fine but a bit too neat- it read like a school essay-, and I Thee Dread wasn’t finished yet. I think it should have been cut until she was ready to take it further than she did.
But overall, this is a thoughtful, perceptive, beautifully written, highly relevant collection of essays on 21st century society’s major issues, particularly those to do with self-presentation, seeking connection and negotiating being a woman with truth and integrity in a world that is still nowhere near equal. And I can only imagine she’ll get better as she keeps writing more. I bought this in hardback at the actual bookstore the day it came out and I’ll do the same for whatever her next collection may be. She’s earned it.
Trick Mirror is both a timely and relevant book featuring essays with more heart, soul, power and FIRE in their words than any other work of nonfiction I have enjoyed in 2019. Talented New Yorker Tolentino shows promise in terms of following in the incredibly successful footsteps of writers such as Zadie Smith whose own glorious collections of long-form pieces stoked my imaginatory fire at the time. The pieces are full of breadth and depth that makes them not only a pleasure to read but intensely thought-provoking and inspiring too. In this time of great anxiety and division, many are looking for a guiding light to illuminate their way out of the dark, and it appears Tolentino has taken the helm with more than enough wisdom, wit and scalpel-sharp observation to craft powerful individual articles on a broad spectrum of topics relating to contemporary American culture, interwoven with the author’s interesting autobiographical information.
Within she touches on recurring themes of the American dream, feminism, the rise of the internet and social media, disillusionment, loneliness, gender identity, LGBTQIA+ relations, current political stances and persuasions in the US, the #METOO movement, corruption of morality, sexual harassment, misogyny, traditionalism vs modern materialism, religion, drug use, the cult of popularism, reality television, and the role the mainstream media plays in propagating half-truths and increasingly hatred which is now having such devastating consequences. Tolentino has some really valid and important points to make on a plethora of different themes and the book is primarily presented in the stream-of-consciousness style. Each of the nine essays is quite profound and all are interlinked by an underlying darkness and discussed in terms of their pros and cons.
With sensitivity and charm, a feat not as easy to achieve as she may make it look throughout, there’s no doubt that Tolentino is a writer to watch and one I hope gets the recognition she deserves for this captivating anthology. At the very least a wide readership, but I feel this is very much “award-winning” material. It is a beautiful, emotional and often brutally honest collection that never failed to move me written by a twenty-first-century wordsmith akin to the majesty of Joan Didion and Zadie Smith’s works. Her words are literal and metaphorical FIRE. A work of nonfiction that I can wholeheartedly recommend to all with some real gems scattered amongst the pages and phrases that are seared into my memory. Amongst my top 5 reads of the year so far without a doubt and one of the most rewarding, unflinching and multifaceted explorations of popular culture today. Many thanks to 4th Estate for an ARC.
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.
-Tolentino puts into artful and elegant words the feelings and premonitions you’ve had for a while, but have been unable to articulate properly. She’s been thinking about the same things and observing the same things that many of us have been thinking and observing, especially since we’re all so online these days. But, as a friend put it, “her writing is extremely clear, and the analytical tools she has at her disposal are helpful, and the connections she makes are interesting and provocative.” I feel like I’ve been searching for a book like this for a long time.
-I want to evangelize many of the ideas in this book, but after a first reading, I really don’t think I could do them justice when putting them into my own words. Part of this is definitely due to the fact that I read the book so quickly. It was so damn good that I devoured it in just a few bites. I now feel like I’ve injected Tia Tolentino into my veins, when what I should have done is taken the book as a seven course meal with wine pairings. I’m sure there are many critiques to be had, but I was unable to log them while in the frenzy of freebasing. For example, a friend commented that “one weakness in the introduction is that Tolentino’s analysis isn’t inclined to prescription but she shoehorns a sort of unnecessary ‘what is to be done’ thing at the end. The whole thing is about sitting with the feeling of what is to be done when nothing seems to be appropriate, but we get a ‘to be sure…’ at the end that kind of undermines it.” I had nothing to say to this because I had missed this entirely, making me think that I’ve missed plenty more. I will have to re-read soon.
-Most of the essays, especially when they explored feminism, made me feel like I have so much to learn.
-The essay on religion and drugs was the most relatable piece of writing I’ve encountered in a while.
-Tolentino is often very funny throughout the essays, making it that much more enjoyable to read.
OUT NOW! I was given an advance review copy from Random House in exchange for an honest review.
Tolentino’s debut essay collection is a masterful examination of Millennial existence. She seamlessly blends facts with historical context, anecdote, and humor to help clear the seemingly permanent haze that has settled over many of us. Through smart examinations of social media, the Great Recession, the student loan crisis, Amazon and Facebook, reality TV, mainstream capitalistic feminism, and other hallmarks of a Millennial upbringing, she shows us a potential answer to the “why” questions many of us ask ourselves late at night with friends after a couple drinks.
We see ourselves in a very distorted light, and much of the time we are completely unaware of that fact. We are constantly overstimulated, paranoid, exhausted, and being manipulated out of our time and money. It’s so bad that a lot of us feel powerless to stop it. Tolentino, through this essay collection, works to see past the trick mirror we have been presented with in order to (hopefully) live a truer life.
“…I wrote this book because I am always confused, because I can never be sure of anything, and because I am drawn to any mechanism that directs me away from that truth,” Tolentino writes in the Introduction. I think she has landed on some kind of solid ground with Trick Mirror, and in the process she has led me to my own understandings. I feel lucky to have the privileged of Tolentino as the essayist of my generation. Please read this book!
In her debut essay collection, Tolentino begins by thinking about why she’s written this collection in the first place. She writes that she was confused after the 2016 election and that through writing, she finds herself less confused. But then, she doubles back on herself, wondering if the effort to create a coherent narrative is a way to falsely reassure herself that she has a grip on a world where crises compound unceasingly and we don’t have the mental capacity to take in apocalypses on all sides. Through essays on barre classes, athleisure, her brief stint as a teen reality tv star, and growing up on the internet, Tolentino writes about what it means to participate in a patriarchal, late-capitalist world, even while you can see it as a scam you’re falling for. I’ve been a fan since she was an editor at Jezebel and always look for her byline in The New Yorker, so I’m partial, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on year-end lists. —Nina
About author Jia Tolentino
Journalist who has gained fame as a staff writer for The New Yorker, including for her #MeToo piece “Limits of Power” in October 2017. She has also worked as a deputy editor of Salon and writer/editor for The Hairpin.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 2009, and served one year in the Peace Corps following graduation in Kyrgyzstan. She later gained her MFA from the University of Michigan.
Her debut short story “The Odyssey” was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in 2012. She worked as a deputy editor for Jezebel between 2014-2016 before joining The New Yorker.
While born in Toronto, Canada, she was raised in Texas. Her parents are of Filipino descent.
She and Lauren Collins appeared together on the popular reality TV series Girls v. Boys.
Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for The New Yorker website and formerly deputy editor of Jezebel and contributing editor at The Hairpin. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Pitchfork. Tolentino has won accolades writing across genres. Flavorwire called her a “go-to music source,” while her first short story won the fall 2012 Raymond Carver Short Fiction Contest and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has also drawn attention for essays on topics like race in publishing, marriage, and notions of female empowerment, as well as for no-holds-barred music criticism: The A.V. Club admired “Tolentino’s sick burns on Charlie Puth” and Studio 360 observed that even in the near-universal panning of Magic!’s song “Rude”, “no criticism has been quite as cutting as Jia Tolentino’s.” Tolentino attended UVA where she was a Jefferson Scholar-Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Scholar. She then earned an MFA from the University of Michigan.