Observations on Lena Dunham's Book Because It's Lena Dunham Book Day
Oh frabuous day! Callooh! Callay! Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl is FINALLY in bookstores. I had the chance to get my hands on a copy early and was instantly smitten from page one. But wait, I have more thoughts. Without giving away any spoilers are some things I gleaned from reading Ms. D’s first book.
Dunham CRUSHES THE WORLD when she writes the first person
Fun Lena Dunham/HelloGiggles fact: I went to the first HelloGiggles Live show at UCB in Los Angeles a million years ago (2011, whatever), and it was there that I saw Dunham read a personal essay about her relationship with a psychic, this was Dunham back before all of the craziness, Girls was just a pilot, and the Internet, I guess was obsessed with some other girl’s weight. I LOVED this essay, as I have loved every New Yorker piece she’s published. I even love when she strings eight tweets together, it’s almost like a mini-essay. I really do love a lot of the work that has been done on Girls, but I got to say, I think first person really is where Dunham does her pinnacle work.
There’s one essay in particular that every woman should read
She’s had a lot of bad sex and she writes about it like nobody’s business. In particular, one of the most unsettling pieces in the book has to do with a college encounter that Dunham has trouble categorizing: she knows she was violated, to this day she’s unsure if what happened to her was rape. She talks about wanting to write about this for Girls and getting mansplained out of it. I hope they do eventually cover this, I’ve never seen a story like this told on TV and I really would like to see this murky territory explored dramatically. (Yeah, yeah, I know that what happened with Adam Driver and Shiri Appleby was weird, but this essay covers a whole different dimension of bad news.)
Her essay on her sister Grace, a love letter to siblinghood, is perfection
I cried all over my advance reading copy.
Her parents are stuffed-to-bursting with great advice
Both her mom and dad have their own listicle pieces in the book in which Dunham documents their great advice (from her mother: “Luxury is nice but creativity is nicer,” and from her father: “All children are amazing artists. It’s the grown-ups you have to worry about”). In fact, her parents come across so well, I wish Dunham had borrowed MORE from them for Girls, I’m much more interested in the complexities of Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham than I am in the more-often-than-not one-dimensional Mr. and Mrs. Horvath.
You will want to hear more from her essay on gross Hollywood men
I totally get why she can’t name the dudes who were gross to her because of libel charges or whatever but still I wish, I wish. I do wish she shared a little more about her career. Basically every review of this book is taking her to task for not talking more about the making of Girls and the “being the voice of her generation, or at least A VOICE of A GENERATION” and having the Internet be fifty-seven million different kinds of obsessed with her. If we’re going to compare Not That Kind of Girl to Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, both Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling gave a solid amount of insight into their experiences working in television. Dunham, however keeps her insights more focused on her personal life and her childhood.
The book is just gushingly, embarrassing wonderful
It really is exactly as smart, insightful, vulnerable, witty, wise, and searching as I was hoping it was going to be.
And it’s worth investing in a hardcover
The illustrations that are peppered throughout the book (courtesy of Dunham’s childhood friend Joana Avillez) are Eloise-at-the-plaza awesome and the ENDPAPERS, good lord, the endpapers are the best endpapers in the history of publishing, like I don’t think when Gutenberg invented the printing press he could have ever imagined that endpapers could be this amaze.