Writers describing the contemporary moment abound. Many do it well, but few do it as shrewdly as Jia Tolentino. With Trick Mirror: Reflections on self-delusion, Tolentino has produced a début collection of essays so insightful and moving that it appears to exist in a genre separate to so much perpetually circulated personal and political writing, the surfeit of which seems to define our era.
Since joining the New Yorker as a staff writer in 2016, Tolentino has produced a variety of spectacular and important journalism about both the gravely serious (including some of the most formidable analysis of Bill Cosby’s trial and the Harvey Weinstein case) and the ostensibly frivolous (Tolentino, the pre-eminent documenter of Twitter culture, identifies where it is literary and where it is dangerous; in 2018 she also wrote an extraordinary investigation into the rise of vaping in US schools). In Trick Mirror, Tolentino expands her method and style, developing what amounts to a meditation on the consolations of a culture in which people (particularly women) are made to feel complicit in their own degradation.