,

FIVE THINGS I HATED ABOUT LENA DUNHAM'S DEBUT


When I heard that Lena Dunham was writing a book I was so excited. 'This is it,' I thought, 'this is the book that I'll pass on to my children and my grandchildren. It'll be my bible and I'll keep a worn-out copy on my bedside table for years to come, dipping into it whenever I need inspiration.' I decided to save it, as I do with most things that I believe will be brilliant, until the right moment. And that right moment came this month.

After reading the introduction I convinced myself that I was in for a treat. It's smart, it's funny, and it promises to share the struggles of a young woman with 'a keen interest in having it all.' But that's about as good as it gets. From the first chapter (if I can even call it that), things went rapidly downhill. So, for those of you who, like me, had high hopes for Dunham's No. 1 Bestseller, let me significantly lower your expectations. Here are the (top) five things I hated about Not That Kind of Girl...

1. IT'S MUCH LESS INTERESTING THAT DUNHAM THINKS IT IS
Her relationships, despite being pitched as quirky and interesting, are pretty unremarkable. Her 'experimental' lists (18 Unlikely Things I've Said Flirtatiously, 15 Things I've Learned from My Mother) are neither funny nor relevant. And I have literally no interest in a food diary she kept in 2010, which she dubs 'the most secret and humiliating document' on her computer; seriously, it's just a list of snacks and salad dressings. I laughed out loud when I read, 'That Audrey and I wind up at college together is one of the strangest things that has happened, maybe ever, but definitely to me.' Is this girl for real? It's not strange - not even mildly amusing - give it a rest.

2. IT'S BADLY WRITTEN
I'm not sure what it was about this book, but I could barely read it. It was awkward and overly self-conscious. Oh, and it wasn't the slightest bit funny.

3. IT'S AN EXERCISE IN SELF-DEPRECATION...
When Lena Dunham promised to tell me everything she'd learned, I thought I'd be let in on the secrets of a young woman who, although undeniably privileged, has made a pretty significant mark on the world. Instead, I learned about her highschool relationships and her struggle with her weight. Dunham is a 29 year-old woman (according to Wikipedia) who has written, produced, and starred in her own TV show, yet there's no mention of her success, at all. Why do we learn nothing about her adult life past her 'embarrassing' years at college? If this book is trying to inspire young women, it fails.

4. ...AND IT'S PRETTY DEPRESSING
The book is broken into five sections - Love & Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture - all of which share a common theme, boys. I felt like I was reading a 15 year-old girl's journal. I repeat, how is it that an adult woman who's managed to make a name for herself as a female creative, the 'voice of her generation' no less, manages to become so overwhelmingly (self)defined by her various relationships? Way to go, feminism.

5. IT CONFIRMS MY SUSPICIONS
I want to like Dunham. I loved Girls for the most part, and I think she's pretty funny in the interviews I've heard and read. But this was - pardon my frustration - a crock of shit. If Not That Kind of Girl is her calling card, Dunham must be a whiny, self-indulgent rich-kid with a touch of narcissism. Another one bites the dust!

In conclusion, it's not what it could've (should've) been. What did I like about the book? The illustrations. They're cute and they're quirky, and they add a little charm to an otherwise awful book. They're by Joana Avillez, and you should totally check out her work. Have you read Not That Kind of Girl? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

11 comments

  1. Yeah, it didn't work for me at all. I felt like she was too young and too inexperienced (despite her success) to be writing an autobiography - your teenage diary analogy is spot on; it was like she was spouting the opinions and stories she thought were expected of her but didn't have many thoughts of her own. So disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - I've just realised that it's almost completely devoid of any thoughts or advice. If the whole premise is that she tells us what she's 'learned' then what exactly did she learn? It's a complete write off!

      Delete
  2. I've not read this book, but now I don't think I'll bother! I agree it sounds like it could be great but obviously it is a real disappointment. As interesting as reading about someone growing up and their all-important teenage years can be, it's the story of them being an adult, their success, that we all want to know about particularly in Lena's case as you say. She's written her own TV shows but she's going on about relationships? It just doesn't make sense to me. Have you read Mindy Kaling's 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?'? I loved that book! She is so witty and in contrast actually talks about her career! I'd love to know what you thought about it if you've read it xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! Use the childhood/teenage stories to show who much you've changed or grown.. or, as Lena promises, to show us what she's 'learned' - it really missed the point. Haven't read Mindy Kaling's book but I'll definitely put it on my list - thanks for the recommendation. And I'll almost certainly share my thoughts if I do read it! Thanks for stopping by, Jemma. x

      Delete
  3. I loved Girls but I don't think I'd be interested in reading this. It's a shame that she's written so much about relationships when I'm sure most people would be far more interested in her career x

    Josie |Sick Chick Chic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like Girls (which I also loved) covered relationships really well. No need for Dunham to rehash the same old stuff again. I think she underestimated her audience to be honest. x

      Delete
  4. I'm so glad you said it - I couldn't understand why I was so disappointed when I felt like I should love it! I even recommended to people to read it, but I realise now it's because I thought it should be good rather than it was. And is it me, or was she just trying to be shocking the whole time rather than being real? x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's why I'm SO disappointed. It should have been brilliant but it wasn't. I think she really let her fans down! And yes, totally - all of her stories seems like they were just waiting for a 'gasp' moment... and I was like, 'so what?' Sigh! x

      Delete
  5. I agree wholeheartedly with you.

    I was so utterly disappointed by this book. It's lack of originality, lack of success-stories or sharing real 'secrets' of strong women.

    I too found it cringingly self aware, and it made me uncomfortable reading it. It was so clunky and almost 'try hard', I just found myself sighing and rolling my eyes a lot.

    Instead of being inspired, I came away from it being a bit sad, really. Sad and disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Exactly, it was so self-aware and I thought she could do better. It was depressing, not inspiring! I wanted to know how she got people to buy into Girls, how she came about writing the book, what struggles she's faced, etc. I hear Mindy Kaling's book is better... might be worth a shot? x

      Delete
  6. I really don't like Lena Dunham and I hate that she's lauded as the face of modern feminism, she doesn't represent my movement at all

    ReplyDelete