The title of Lena Dunham’s new book, Not That Kind of Girl is a reference to Helen Gurley Brown’s 1983 book, Having it All. It seems Ms. Dunham found the book at a second-hand store, read it, got inspired and wrote her book as an answer. Unfortunately the answer is coming from Lena Dunham. The absolute last person I would want to take advice from. About anything. When Helen Gurley Brown wrote her book it was groundbreaking. It was a big deal in 1982 for a woman to be married, a business woman, not a mother, and in charge of her body and sexuality. She is a hero to the feminist movement for being the CEO of a company and running a women’s magazine. Sure, a lot of what Ms. Brown wrote is outdated, but she was a ground breaker. Lena Dunham is a cheap knockoff.
Since the premiere of her show Girls Lena Dunham has been popular. She’s been loved and hated equally in the press. Lena Dunham is a polarizing personality. She’s been hailed as a rebel and a representative of her generation. And she’s been criticised as selfish, out of touch, child-like, and spoiled. Which she is. I mean, I don’t understand how any woman can watch Girls and think, “Gee. I’d like to be friends with them.” Women in Lena Dunham’s universe are stereotypes. And they’re mean! She herself grew up in New York, as the daughter of two artists and attended an all girls school. Then went to Oberlin. And Summered in Connecticut. There’s just something about her that’s un-relatable. Taking advice from Lena Dunham is like taking advice from Jay Gatsby.
And now the 28-year-old has a book of essays and advice from her years of experience. Basically, the book is full of sex and shtick. And it isn’t very funny. Here is an example from the book. “Not to sound like a total hippie, but I cured my HPV with acupuncture”. Hilarious. In a book that is supposed to be full of advice, or at least things the author has “learned”, the reader is left with… not so much soul baring by the author, but navel gazing. There isn’t much “honest” or “real” in this collection. And I guess that’s the major problem.
Lena Dunham already “has it all”. She was born having it all. The idea that a 28-year-old girl born with a silver spoon in her mouth has written her “memoirs” or an “advice book” is absurd. She is just too young and too privileged to write this type of book. It’s filled with the quirky stories we’ve come to expect from Dunham (trips to the gynaecologist, losing her virginity, finding a therapist, summer camp, and of course, filming a television show. We all know how that can be.) The problem is the stories are repetitive and often boring, lacking the humor and style of better writers like Nora Ephron, Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling.
Maybe I’ve judged her book unfairly, maybe this book is for her “fans” and the rest of us should steer clear. But a good book is a good book. No matter what the target demographic happens to be. For my time and money I can think of at least ten female celebrity memoirs that I would recommend before this one. Ms. Dunham’s stories can best be described as “occasionally entertaining”. If that’s enough for you – enjoy! If not, try Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck, or Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch.