BOOK REVIEW: JIA TOLENTINO – TRICK MIRROR

Today, it’s another review of another brilliant book – Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror…

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately and I’ve had my eye on this book for ages but never got round to it but I’m so glad I have now and I loved it. But first, what’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:

From one of the brightest young chroniclers of US culture comes this dazzling collection of essays on the internet, the self, feminism and politics.

We are living in the era of the self, in an era of malleable truth and widespread personal and political delusion. In these nine interlinked essays, Jia Tolentino, the New Yorker’s brightest young talent, explores her own coming of age in this warped and confusing landscape.

From the rise of the internet to her own appearance on an early reality TV show; from her experiences of ecstasy – both religious and chemical – to her uneasy engagement with our culture’s endless drive towards ‘self-optimisation’; from the phenomenon of the successful American scammer to her generation’s obsession with extravagant weddings, Jia Tolentino writes with style, humour and a fierce clarity about these strangest of times.

Following in the footsteps of American luminaries such as Susan Sontag, Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit, yet with a voice and vision all her own, Jia Tolentino writes with a rare gift for elucidating nuance and complexity, coupled with a disarming warmth. This debut collection of essays announces her as exactly the sort of voice we need to hear from right now – and for many years to come.

Jia Tolentino is a writer for The New Yorker Magazine and I’m a huge fan of her writing. I especially loved her review of The Testaments recently. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while but things got a bit busy and it slipped my mind. But at the moment, I’m trying to read a lot more non-fiction as I’ve been reading a lot of fiction at the moment (I think due to the Booker Prize, especially) and this was such a great, refreshing read. I loved it, a lot.

Jia is a wonderful and insightful writer. I love the way she crafts sentences together – they sing from the page. Her writing is witty, whip-smart, lyrical, funny, emotional, hopeful – and so much more. The arguments in the book are nuanced, balanced and there is a great sense of optimism and hope throughout the book.

In this book, she covers a lot of ground. From identity, social media, the ‘self’, society in general, feminism, politics, Trump, culture, wedding culture and so much more. She talks about her own experiences – from being on reality TV to her own thoughts about American society and culture. My favourite essays in the book are: ‘The I in the Internet”, “Reality TV Me”, “Pure Heroines”, “The Cult of the Difficult Woman”, and “I Thee Dread”. But to be honest, I took something away from every essay. I feel that this book is so *me* and I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. I folded so many pages as the writing is so good and just connected with me. I really like folding pages in non-fiction books, I don’t do that much in fiction but non-fiction, I fold and fold, and fold…

I loved this book and it’s so refreshing, insightful and really made me think. If, like me, you love reading about the internet, social media, culture, feminism – all that good stuff, you’d love this. Also, if you’re a fan of The High Low podcast, you’ll love this too. I think Pandora recommended it in an episode – it’s a great read for any fan of the podcast. Also, there’s a great podcast with Jia Tolentino and Otegha Uwagba in Otegha’s podcast, In Good Company. It’s a really great listen and a great companion to Trick Mirror.

I just know that this is a book that I will turn back to again and again, for that little bit of hope. I loved this quote from Zadie Smith on the back cover:

“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.”

I think that’s a great summary of the book. It is for me, anyway. I loved it and I can’t wait for more Jia Tolentino, to shine some light and hope in the times we are living in.

Have you read Trick Mirror? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! Also, I’m a big fan of non-fiction reads like this one – essays, cultural insight, etc. Do you have any book recommendations? I love David Sedaris and can’t wait to read more from him. If so, please let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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