I should say up front that I was a Lena Dunham fan long before I read her book “Not That Kind of Girl” so I approached it with a sense of eager anticipation. Prior to publication, Dunham received a hefty advance which generated bitchy comments suggesting that the book was probably over-hyped and would not deliver. After all, she’s only twenty-eight years old and writes, directs and stars in her own HBO series Girls but how much does anyone really know at that age. So the content may be considered a tad thin and self-indulgent.
Reviewing her book in the context of being authored by a young, successful and very smart young woman, I must say that I agree and at the same time disagree with the range of response. I adore her way with words, her metaphors and the way she articulates her stream of consciousness. Admittedly, she’s exceptionally self-centered and has a number of neuroses that require constant feeding but at the same time she possesses exceptional powers of perception and analysis—no doubt the direct result of years of therapy beginning at a young age. In fact, she tosses around many of the pop-psychology phrases she has become accustomed to over the years. She also enjoyed the uncommon benefit of having both her parents together in her life who provided copious amounts of love and validation throughout her growing up years.
Dunham has been around the block. I admire her utter lack of self-consciousness and she is one of the few people who presents herself as a role model for normal-bodied people. Critical of the portrayal of sex in television and movies she says, “Between porn and studio romantic comedies, we get the message loud and clear that we are doing it all wrong.Our bedsheets aren’t right. Our moves aren’t right. Our bodies aren’t right.” She clearly understands the problem of young people watching porn on line with perceptions and expectations that are way out of line with reality.
Dunham has no personal filters and those of us who watch “Girls” understand this. But parts of Not That Kind of Girl are graphic and will make non-appreciators squirm. We could have done without the summary of her diet diary for several days when she was being a good girl; it seemed rather a waste of paper and ink. Otherwise, it’s a fun peek into the mind of a clever twenty-something who grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth and is willing to share.