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August 3 2019
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Jia Tolentino in her backyard in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 2019.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Both Jia Tolentino’s career (she started out as a writer for the Web site the Hairpin, then was the deputy editor at Jezebel) and her voice are inextricably tied to the frantic merry-go-round of Internet discourse. In her first book, a collection of original essays, her descriptions of digital life might seem shockingly dystopian to those who don’t spend a big chunk of their time online (or, more specifically, in the impenetrable, often incoherent world of media Twitter). It’s a “festering inferno” and a “feverish, electric, unlivable hell,” she writes. Scrolling through the void of social media, she’ll “sit there like a rat pressing the lever, like a woman repeatedly hitting myself on the forehead with a hammer … until I finally catch the gasoline whiff of a good meme.”

In The New Yorker, where she is now a staff writer, Tolentino has written about topics as varied as Juuling, abortion legislation in the South, and the pop singer Robyn’s new album. In Trick Mirror,she casts a similarly wide net, presenting a set of often hilarious essays about subjects that are both personal and broadly captivating: rape culture at her alma mater, the University of Virginia; her bizarre stint as a reality-TV contestant; mixing Christianity and hallucinogens in Texas. One essay, on the cultural re-framing of “the difficult woman,” is a revelation: “The ride from Britney Spears getting upskirted on tabloid covers to Stormy Daniels as likable political hero has been so bumpy, so dizzying, that it can be easy to miss the profundity of this shift.”

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