"There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told," writes Lena Dunham, and it certainly takes guts to share the stories that make up her first book, Not That Kind of Girl. These are stories about getting your butt touched by your boss, about friendship and dieting (kind of) and having two existential crises before the age of 20. Stories about travel, both successful and less so, and about having the kind of sex where you feel like keeping your sneakers on in case you have to run away during the act. Stories about proving yourself to a room of 50-year-old men in Hollywood and showing up to "an outlandishly high-fashion event with the crustiest red nose you ever saw." Fearless, smart, and as heartbreakingly honest as ever, Not That Kind of Girl establishes Lena Dunham as more than a hugely talented director, actress and producer-it announces her as a fresh and vibrant new literary voice.
You might have heard of Lena Dunham. She's the star (and creator) of HBO's Girls, she's won awards for her writing and for her acting. She has a unique red carpet style, along with a savvy social media sense, and she's just released her first book, a series of essays on life, love and everything called Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned".
Lena Dunham is successful. Super successful. Her book deal alone banked her a whopping $3.7 million dollors. WOWZA! As such, Dunham has her detractors - a lot of them. People that want to see her fall, who want to see her fail. People who hate her for her success and her background, and, I dunno, maybe her red carpet style too. I'm not one of those detractors. I'm a fan of 'Girls,' and I read Dunham's book because I think she's a talent. I'm interested in what she has to say.
Here's what I "learned" from reading Not That Kind of Girl.
Dunham is a talent. Her writing is a pleasure to read; she has a style that sharp, witty, observant and always on-point. She has a special way with words. And she's funny.
If you're familiar with Girls then you'll know that Dunham's character in the show Hannah Horvath is extremely self-obsessed. Dunham too.
For Example: When Dunham's internet boyfriend dies (or maybe not - Igor's whereabouts are something of an unsolved mystery. Did Igor really exist - that's what I want to know!) - her immediate response is to ask her friend if Igor said he still liked her. It's like, I know he just died, or whatever, but was he still into me? (I'm totally paraphrasing, but you get the drift). Another time, the cab she's riding in hits a pedestrian, and Dunham once again makes it all about her, proclaiming to lookers on, one and all: "It's my birthday!" She is secretly glad when her Grandfather dies. As she sees it, she "has a place to put all my sorrow now". I know, right.
As Horvath, Dunham likes to strip off on screen. She's an over-sharer, and she shares pretty much everything here. One aspect of her life that she doesn't over-kill with the over-share is her relationship with boyfriend Jack Antonoff. Because he matters. And I thought that was sweet. She talks about everything else though. And I mean everything else: her wonky uterus, her fears about death, her therapists, disturbing experiences with a disturbing guy called Barry and inappropriate teachers. All of that.
Dunham has cool parents. Artists, both of them. Lena's dad is an especially laid back customer, particularly when dealing with young Lena and the subject of forks. A total laugh out loud moment for me. Also, sick, Lena. Sick!
Dunham's upbringing, her whole world, is different to yours our mine. It's a pretty charmed world she lives in with easy-to-come-by jobs in designer baby boutiques and vegan dinner parties where the dress code is barefoot casual - and, of course $3.7 million dollar book deals.
Dunham talks of the memoir she'll write when she's eighty - the memoir that will name and shame all those jaded Hollywood moguls who want to "steal her sunshine". Those Hollywood vampires who don't want her to succeed; the just want a piece of whatever magic she has that makes her successful. Dunham is too smart to fall for any of that. And I totally want to read that book.
This book, though. I wanted to love it, but I didn't. I liked parts of Not That Kind of Girl, but some of this book feels like filler: Lena's food diary, her worst email ever, the emails Lena would have sent if she were an ounce crazier/angry/braver. Also, I wasn't sold on the somewhat scatty, non-linear style of this book. It works in part, but I think it only works at all because Dunham is such a skillful wordsmith. And I guess, that in her hands, I expected something more.
My Rating: 3.5/5.