Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl”

I’ve had mixed feelings about Lena Dunham for awhile — I find her likable, unnervingly relatable, and occasionally, fingers-on-a-chalk-board irritating. Shh, I want to say as I watch her character on ‘Girls’ word vomit at a party, everything is okay.

I didn’t have immediate plans to read her new book, but then I went home for a week and it was sitting on my desk, all new and shiny and ready for subway rides (thanks mom!!!)

I swallowed the book whole. I read it every spare second that I had. On subway rides, my closest riding companions read it too, unapologetically, over my shoulder. I let them.

There are a few reasons why I love it: Lena doesn’t pull her punches (not that she ever does) — but really, she DOES NOT in any way hold back. The writing is fresh, engaging, and honest, and, at times, painfully intimate, but in the best kind of way, in a David Sedaris way. “It’s very easy for me to say what success is,” she said in this interview,  “I think success is connecting with an audience who understands you and having a dialogue with them. I think success is continuing to push yourself forward creatively and not sort of becoming a caricature of yourself.”

An excerpt I loved (in true Lena Dunham fashion, it is both tragic and spot on):

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother. In early childhood, it was so extreme that I could often be found breastfeeding stuffed animals…Over time, my belief in many things has wavered: marriage, the afterlife, Woody Allen. But never motherhood. It’s for me…Sometimes we talk about how exciting it would be if something happened accidentally, if we were faced with becoming parents without having to make the decision ourselves. I name them in my head, picture picking them up in the park, hauling them through Gristedes when we all have colds, stopping by a picnic “just for five minutes because he’s really sleepy.” [But] my most frequently recurring dream is one in which I suddenly remember I have a number of pets living in my home that I haven’t tended to in years. Rabbits, hamsters, iguanas, stacked in dirty cages in my closet or beneath the bed. Terrified, I open the door, and the light touches them for the first time in ages. Desperate, I dig through the clumped, wet wood chips….”I’m so sorry,” I tell them as I clean their cages and fill their bottles with fresh water. “How can I make it up to you?” 

Have you read it? I recommend it if you’re on the lookout for a new book!

Photo via Sidewalk Hustle 

5 thoughts on “Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl”

  1. I’m not the biggest fan of Lena Dunham either and I’ve been wavering on whether or not to read the book. I guess I will have to give it a shot now. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I think I may have to browse the pages on Amazon. I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder if Lena’s book is in the same vein.

  3. Hannah as a character is pretty obnoxious, I have to say. But Dunham’s writing is different – she’s really articulated the mistakes of my (our) generation well. I loved her book and was happy to see a girl reading it at the walk-in clinic while I waited to refill my birth control. I think Lena lets women discover themselves in a way other writers, comedians, musicians, haven’t yet …by mirroring our judgements, worries, mistakes and tiny triumphs.
    loved it.

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