Not That Kind of Girl: Lena Dunham

Title: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” 7117777143_750e89853d_z

Author: Lena Dunham

Illustrator: Joana Avillez

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9499-5

E-Book ISBN: 978-0-8129-9500-8

Published: September 2014, Random House New York

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts:

Lena Dunham, star of HBO’s Girls first solo novel, Not That Kind of Girl, will be instantly recognizable to fans of the show as Hannah Hogarth’s book of essays.  The book almost reads like a really long series of unrelated Tweets and I can appreciate that this is something that readers in their 20’s are likely to feel more comfortable with than I was. I really did feel that I could have done without the chapter that solely consisted of Lena’s food diaries. Maybe I’m just old and don’t really get that part! What I did understand and emphasize with is the awkwardness of growing up and going through your 20’s, with all of the self doubt and hangups that go along with all of that. Lena has a knack for writing about  the gross and messy parts of life in such a self deprecating and matter of fact way that she manages me to feel positively normal. Not That Kind of Girl is incredibly self indulgent at times, but you’re meant to be self indulgent in your 20’s so that’s ok.

Lena Dunham has been dubbed ‘The Voice of her Generation’ but can an entire generation really have just one voice? I don’t think so, but I know that she is a voice, and a strong one at that. In between her sometimes inane musings she does make some pretty solid points that I wish I’d been told by someone clever and cool in my 20’s.

On love and relationships:

“When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.”

“You will find,” she says, “that there’s a certain grace to having your heart broken.”

“You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from.”

On anxiety:

“I didn’t know why this was happening. The cruel reality of anxiety is that you never quite do. At the moments it should logically strike, I am fit as a fiddle. On a lazy afternoon, I am seized by a cold dread.”

On getting naked on TV:

“It’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”

On High School:

“that’s also how I felt in high school, sure that my people were from elsewhere and going elsewhere and that they would recognize me when they saw me.”

On Barbie:

“Barbie’s disfigured. It’s fine to play with her just as long as you keep that in mind.”

On female writers: 

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”

And this stinging insult:

“D. J. Tanner called and she wants her wardrobe back so it can be included in a museum retrospective about the prime years of Full House.”

I particularly related to the chapter titled Girl Crush where Lena writes about her dislike for the term but admits to having girl crushes before. I have to admit that I have used the term girl crush to speak about women that I admire, but I have to agree that it really isn’t an appropriate term. Like Lena, I don’t have romantic feelings for these people and a lot them them aren’t necessarily women. But I also don’t want to be them the way that Lena describes. I think it would be more appropriate to say that they are people who I admire. Some of the people I admire are wildly rich and successful, but not all of them are. People I admire usually have a career that they enjoy doing and always know where they are heading and what they need to do to get there. When things go wrong they take it in their stride and do what they need to do to get themselves back on track. They always seem happy in their own skin and are comfortable with who they are and what they are doing. I definitely admire how brave Lena Dunham is for baring her soul (and her boobs) over and over again for the world to see and the way that she has turned her passion for writing into an extremely successful career. She obviously loves what she does and I will look forward to hearing more from her in the future. The memoir that she promised to write in her 80’s sounds like it will be hilarious.

Lena Dunham is someone that should consider following on Twitter

Visit here to purchase yourself a copy of Not That Kind of Girl. Let me know what you thought if you have a chance to read it and I’d also love to hear about what qualities you find yourself admiring in people?

Image uploaded to Flickr by Shankbone (2012) and shared under Creative Commons License. Visit here to view to original image.

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