A non-fiction collection of essays by Lena Dunham.
Not That Kind of Girl and I got off to a rocky start. I loved Dunham’s introduction but the next, seemingly endless, chapters, where she talks about her dysfunctional relationships, one after another, were awful. She uses an (almost) stream of consciousness style writing so that, in the middle of telling one story, she puts in stuff totally unrelated except that it’s about another dude who she banged once or more (depends on the story really). I was completely confused and not into it. But then, once I was past that first part, the memoir picked up considerably. Dunham has crafted a very raw and brave set of essays about growing up, her family, her success, her crushing anxiety, and what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood. So, if you can make it past the initial bit, I found the rest of Not That Kind of Girl to be well worth the read.
Here’s some parts I enjoyed:
For my husband, the DnD player (she’s talking about finding an eligible man on campus): “The pickings were slim, especially if, like me, you were over bisexuals. At least half the straight men on campus played Dungeons & Dragons, and another quarter eschewed footwear entirely.” pg 32 (ebook) The horror! :p
How relationships end: “The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.” pg 97 (ebook) Kind of like the Time Warp.
I loved her reasons for writing (in this, she’s talking to a girl she admired, who had just asked Lena why she writes): “And in our work, we create a better or clearer universe,” I tell her breathlessly. “Or at least one that makes more sense.” pg 220 (ebook)
Lena remembers a disturbing incident with a grade school teacher: “I was reminded again that there are so many things we need that can also hurt us: cars, knives, grown-ups. I was reminded how no one really listens to kids.” pg 267 (ebook)
A true eccentric: “Isabel is a true eccentric- not the self-conscious kind who collects feathers and snow globes but the kind whose passions and predilections are so genuinely out of sync with the world at large that she herself becomes an object of fascination.” pg 282 (ebook)
Finding her way in a “man’s world”: “But the scariest thought of all is the one that pushed me to keep making contact well past the point that I became uncomfortable, to try and prove myself again and again. The reason I didn’t stop answering their calls, that I rushed to drink dates that were past my bedtime and had conversations that didn’t interest me and forced myself to sit at the table long after I’d grown uncomfortable. The thought I worked so vigilantly to ensure they would never entertain: She’s silly. She’s no threat.” pg 314 (ebook) I felt that passage, very deeply. There is the beauty of Dunham’s writing- she records her thoughts in such a way that the reader says to herself, “That’s me. I’ve been there. That’s all of us.” At least, I did.
If you enjoyed Not That Kind of Girl, you may want to read Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick, Pigs Can’t Swim by Helen Peppe, or Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson.
Thanks for reading!