Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham; 2014

I’ll start with two small prefaces.

  1. I don’t have strong feelings about Dunham one way or another. I watched a season and a half of Girls, at first enthusiastically, and then a lot less so. I admire everything that she has accomplished as a young writer. I do see why so many people seem to find her unbearable. Personally, I think she’s young, has talent, and still has a lot to figure out. I’m giving her a pass. It’s difficult for me to be too critical of someone who puts it all out there.
  2. I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads for NTKOG before sitting down to write this, and I have a small bone to pick. Dunham can’t help who are parents are or where she comes from. Just because she’s privileged doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to write or create. I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads that implied that she hasn’t “suffered” enough to have a leg to stand on when it comes to writing. I don’t think this is fair. She obviously has talent, and she’s unapologetic for it, which is probably where she gets herself into trouble.

Okay.

I didn’t have a visceral reaction to this book like so many reviewers seemed to, although I can certainly understand the grounds for these reactions. There are definitely parts of NTKOG that made me cringe (and not in the intentional way that she wants, like with the sex scenes in Girls). I gave credit to Dunham that Girls was self-indulgent because she was trying to prove a point. I still believe this is true, but now I’m really narrowing my eyes at her, because this book is self-indulgent as hell. It’s a memoir, which is tricky because I guess memoirs are self-indulgent by nature. She also cops to her self-centeredness several times, but does that really make it any better? If the self-absorbedness led to advice or a lesson (like, don’t so self-absorbed), that would be one thing. But when it comes to advice or wisdom, Not That Kind of Girl doesn’t have any.

I was surprised and disappointed to see that there were so many essays about BOYS. Here’s a young woman who has accomplished so much in her life before the age of thirty, and she devoted probably 70% of her memoir to writing about her attraction to the wrong kind of guy. I don’t care about reading about every single relationship or non-relationship or sexual exploit that Dunham has ever experienced in her entire life. I want to read about her writing process, what it’s like to have to take command of a writer’s room, actually developing Girls, etc. It’s hard to believe a woman who calls herself a feminist when most of her book is about men. And, actually, writing about that stuff makes her exactly that kind of girl.

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