“Oof—this one hits hard as a twenty-something navigating a sense of identity in 2019. Excuse my analogy, but here, Tolentino holds a mirror to today’s social funhouse (or haunted house, more aptly): Instagram influencers, reality TV producers, media representations of femininity and survivor stories (I dread that those two are so linked), self-monetization, barre classes, and marriage capitalism. Here, the internet isn’t the solution to all our problems, nor is it a horrible existential void. One of the most thorough and absurdly witty collections of cultural criticism today! And if nothing else, it’ll get your inner nineties kid going.”
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.