Friday, January 23, 2015

Nothing was a tragedy, and everything was a joke

Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl was getting a lot of talk back in October when the book went on sale and I snagged a copy because peer pressure (even from the media) and sales are a pretty good way to get me to impulse buy things. I've never watched GIRLS (though I have seen several SNL sketches about it, so yeah, that's pretty much the same thing, right?) so this is the first thing of Dunham's I've actually experienced. Not sure if this is going to make me watch GIRLS anytime soon.

The book is a memoir, going over Dunham's awkward childhood through her awkward twenties and since that's how old Dunham is that's where things end. Which is fine. I don't mind her being young and writing a memoir now. There's something to be said for writing experiences while they're still fresh versus writing about situations decades later. Of course, I would assume this would means the self-deprecation would have to wait until you can further from the event and then you can laugh at how ridiculous things were. Dunham still has that self-deprecation you see in, say Bossypants, though she seems to go into the situation with the self-deprecation already in mind. I don't know that this means what she's written is inauthentic to her. She sort of comes off as the type of person that enters into every situation this way.

There were things that I liked
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.
There were things that made me roll by eyes
When I was seventeen years old I even had a vegan dinner party that was chronicled in the style section of The New York Times - headline: A Crunchy Menu of a Youthful Crowd!" - and catered by a now-defunct establishment called the Veg-City Diner. I wore my grandmother's Dior, insisted on shoelessness (leather was a no-no), and explained to the reporter that, while I didn't care much about the Iraq War, I was very concerned by our nation's casual attitude toward bovine murder.
I enjoyed Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, but the whole time I was reading I just thought "Man, knowing you in real life sounds...just exhausting." Sometimes I really want to be BFFs with the writers (Mindy Kaling haaaaaay) but Dunham, no thank you. I enjoyed reading your book. You are entertaining and your show even seems like something I would probably enjoy but you can stay way over there, thankyouverymuch.

I like that Dunham is a young woman who has seen the amount of success that she's earned. While her book wasn't my favorite thing, it's impressive that she managed to get such a high advance for the book and that ultimately the book was/is a success, so take that naysayers. I think the controversy around the book, specifically the scenes with her sister when they were both young children, are blown out of proportion. Of course, I read about most of the controversy on Tumblr, where "blown out of proportion" is the norm. I like that she's out there doing what she's doing, even if what she's doing isn't necessarily my thing.

Certainly not one of my favorite memoirs. Or books. It was entertaining enough, annoying at times, self-involved much of the time. Essentially everything I expected going into this.

GIF Rating:

Title quote from page 185, location 2654

Dunham, Lena. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She "Learned". Random House, 2014. Kindle.