I’ve been following Jia Tolentino’s work since her time at Jezebel. Her New Yorker pieces are always must reads for me, even when they cover subjects I’m not interested in. She’s one of the few writers I’ve made the effort to see in person, catching her while on tour promoting this book. We chatted about our mutual love of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, which she had written about a few months earlier.
It’s taken me awhile to understand why exactly I like her work, especially considering I don’t read many essayists on the regular. Finishing Trick Mirror, I had a healthier understanding of why. I don’t like being preached at or told what to believe. A lot of times, essayists take this pompous position that their eloquence with words and knowledge on the subject require me to fall lock step in with their beliefs. Even when I find myself agreeing with them, that kind of condescending tone is not something I appreciate. I’d just as soon read something for fun.
Jia Tolentino doesn’t preach. She’s very good at articulating the traps we are in: the traps of the patriarchy, structural racism, income inequality, and especially how these things engage with the festering bonfire that is the internet. She articulates the trap: this is where we are, why we are here, and what the cost is. There’s no easy answer for escape, that’s not the point. She’s not a healer, she’s a diagnostician but she does it with crisp prose.
Some essays work more than others. There are times when she can be a little circular or redundant. But that’s a minor complaint. I learn something every time I read Jia Tolentino. I really appreciate her style and, for me at least, she is the voice of my generation that I often turn to for understanding.