A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”
First of all, I have to talk about the book cover. It is a deliberate nod to the books of the 1970s, particularly feminist books like those from Betty Friedan, Erica Jong, Germaine Greer et al. I found that interesting since the author wasn’t even born then.
And then there’s the book itself. This is a memoir from a woman who, while definitely young, has an explosive career based not on her looks, like a young pop star or supermodel, but on her talent.
If you are not familiar with Lean Dunham, you should be. At the age of 25, she was given her own TV show, Girls, on the prestigious HBO network and she is its creator, producer, writer and star. It probably helped that Judd Apatow fell in love with her independent film, Tiny Furniture, and is also a producer of Girls.
Be that as it may, she is the first woman to win the Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series, has numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and I think it safe to say, has a very bright future ahead of her. So taking this time to look back may seem premature to some, but apparently Dunham had enough to say to fill a book. It also garnered a news worthy $3.5 million advance.
All that said, I didn’t love the book, probably because it’s about a time of life that I simply can’t relate to. Her stories reflect a coming of age at the cusp of the millennium, when I had children already; I mean, my son is older than Dunham. I was shocked and happy to see that she devoured Having it All, the classic book by Helen Gurley Brown, (I doubt my kids even know who she is, sad to say.) The stories definitely have some humor, some emotion, but also a certain standoffishness, as if some of these things happened to someone else entirely and Dunham was on the outside looking in. And some of the stories seemed simply therapeutic.
It was an interesting book and I would recommend it to twenty-something, maybe even thirty-something women but probably not anyone else. And frankly, my 22 year old daughter wouldn’t read it anyway.
Summary? I am a fan and it was nice getting to know Dunham a bit better outside the television milieu. I’m glad I read it.
10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Lena Dunham. Random House (September 30, 2014). ISBN 978-0812994995. 288p.