Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review || Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham ||


The other day I bought this book from the Paperback Bookstore in Melbourne's CBD (I'd recommend checking them out, they have a great philosophy section), then decided to take a break from reading Walden, in order to smash this collection of Lena Dunham's essays out in under a day.

From her childhood growing up in therapy, to her adult life trying to overcome anxieties, OCD and other challenges, all while being a creative exhibitionist, Dunham artfully guides you through what she believes to have been her greatest mishaps.

About ten pages through the book I had to stop, place my thumb on the sentence I'd just finished, close my eyes and think, 'this woman and I are the same damn person!' 

There's been a huge amount of hype over Not that Kind of Girl, mostly to do with the success of Dunham's TV series 'Girls' and the accolades she has received for her creative work. I'd say it's deserved hype. Though of course I didn't 'get' every essay, but those are the essays that aren't for me and that's okay - they're there for the people who need them. And for Dunham herself.

I think my favourite part in the whole book may have been her illustration of losing her virginity and the morning after. She writes about the mundane reality that follows; how she wasn't changed; how old wives tales made no real impact on her after the fact, and how she ended up just going about her day. It was real, honest and relatable; and dare I say, something most young women in their twenties might have experienced. No added romanticism, despite what the deeper parts of the author or audience might have wished her to add. 

It's quite an 'easy' and addictive read, and I think important reading for the millennial generation. Dunham is brilliant at overcoming the archetypal character and showing people in their raw and uninhibited forms, that the people she writes about are in fact real people and not characters, and she shows that especially well when writing about herself. I also love the fact that she admits to her various levels of narcissism, of unreliability, of wanting to think she's a little cooler or 'better' than she might appear to be - these are character 'flaws' we should all be prepared to gracefully relax into, as we all suffer them somewhat. Dunham has a brilliant mind, and this was an incredibly enjoyable debut piece of non-fiction.