Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

I’m fed up with the swirl of publicity for the books churned out of the NYC publishing elite (see also: Taffy Brodesser-Akner). The circus of praise surrounding them leads you to expect a quality that turns out to be lacking. Tolentino’s book is no exception, a baggy, wordy, bloated exploration of thoughts that are better written about elsewhere. Her essay Pure Heroines reads like a book report and a poorly Xeroxed copy of Kate Zambreno’s sublime book, Heroines. Cult of the Difficult Woman reads like a poor-woman’s Trainwreck (by Sady Doyle). Most egregious of all is the reliance of Wikipedia-esque research to create filler for the book (“In 1844, ‘optimize’ was used as a verb for the first time…”); that’s one of my personal pet peeves, exploring word history in a desultory way that implies you’ve done real research but most likely not. The only worthwhile part was her essay detailing her teenage participation in a reality show, Girls v Boys: Puerto Rico, mostly interesting because it was the only content in the book that couldn’t have been written by anyone else (or looked like a gussied up version of what someone else has written about).