My Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Finally broke and read it. Took me about a day to finish it, which tells you this book is both easy to read and that there isn’t much depth to spend time pondering over.

Dunham is predictably self-involved to an extraordinary degree. I believe a certain amount of self-involvement is a prerequisite for art, since the artist has to truly believe what comes from his mind alone is worth sharing, and to enjoy spending long periods of time alone to cultivate his ideas. However, Dunham’s self-involvement seems to result merely in indulging the typical anxieties of someone born in the upper echelon of society who did not face “real” challenges growing up. 

If you’re looking for insight into feminism, writing, directing, new media etc., you won’t get it here. What you will get here instead is Dunham’s storytelling about drowning in crises of her own making – of various flings, of a retail job (selling five thousand dollar baby-wear to Gwyneth Paltrow), of how much she hated class and learning (first at the New School, and then as a transfer to Oberlin), and of other meaningless stuff that I can’t remember now even though I finished the book only a couple of weeks ago.

Dunham’s writing is full of cliché and trite phrases. All else withstanding, I would have expected better from a graduate of Oberlin’s prestigious creative writing program. The best line in the book (“I remember when my schedule was as flexible as she is”) is quoted from Drake – which tells you a lot.

What I dislike about Dunham is her propagation of the awkward girl success because she is only telling a part of the story. Yes, you can succeed by being unprofessional and awkward when your parents are liberal-minded, well-connected and wealthy artists in NYC who send you to private school, and then pay for the New School and for your transfer to Oberlin. Otherwise, I’d suggest actually setting goals and working toward them, and trying not to give in to every temptation that comes your way.

Dunham shows a rare moment of self-awareness when she talks about being asked at a lecture – “How does it feel to be a line item in so many people’s stories of privilege and oppression?” So she *does* recognize that her life is privileged! I think. Since she never really comments further on this, the reader is left to wonder while she tells us about another guy she made out with.

All that being said, this is definitely an entertaining quick read and there are definitely moments where I totally related to Dunham.

Second best line in the book:
“The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.”