Funny, Unconventional & Brutally Honest

Funny, Unconventional & Brutally Honest

Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl is exactly like her hit HBO TV series Girls

By Janice Rodrigues

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 4:50 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:50 PM

I must admit, I started watching the HBO series Girls because of my fascination with Lena Dunham more than anything else. The fact that a woman — one who does not have the advantage of superior looks or a world-renowned family name — managed to direct, produce and star in a TV series at the age of 26, seemed like nothing short of astounding. It’s now been three years since the show first aired, and that short span of time has seen Dunham win two Golden Globe awards, receive eight Emmy award nominations for her directing, producing, writing and acting skills, and if that were not enough, become the first woman to win a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series.

So what exactly makes Dunham and her show so magnetic? The premise of 20-year-olds living in a big city (New York, in this case), while on a path to self-discovery and self-actualisation is hardly new. And yet, there is something undeniably irresistible about the characters themselves — flawed, self-centered, and very, very real. In the show, Dunham (who plays the role of protagonist Hannah) is hardly a role model, and more of an anti-hero, and nothing is more entertaining than watching her stumble through life, ‘one mistake at a time’, as the show’s tagline states.

Her tell-all memoir Not That Kind of Girl, for which she reportedly received a whopping $3.7 million from Random House to write, is much like her TV show — an overly intimate peek into the bewildering mind of Lena Dunham. Told in a series of short stories that span across five sections, the memoir captures everything from Dunham’s many, many oddities (her concerns about lamp dust and ‘adrenaline fatigue’ come to mind), to her past relationships (some healthy, some not) to her battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder — not exactly in that order (or any order, for that matter).

The result is a memoir that is strikingly unique. Dunham is bold and unabashed about all her inadequacies, something her fan base has grown to not only expect, but appreciate. Despite the fact that Dunham has a flair for making every event about herself (much like her character Hannah in Girls), the fine writing style and peppy dialogue makes for an engaging read. Moreover, you’ll find the book sprinkled with little nuggets of wisdom that pop out when you least expect them (“ambition is a funny thing: it creeps in when you least expect it and keeps you moving, even when you think you want to stay put”).

Along the way, it deals with issues regarding body image, having to deal with therapy, becoming an older sibling, the excitement of being young, the fear of an imminent death, and the urge to see it all, do it all, and experience life as it is.

Not That Kind of Girl may not be the most addictive or intellectual read, and naysayers may point out that some parts can seem incredibly self-involved. But true fans of Dunham won’t be dissapointed; after all, it is exactly what one would expect — a glimpse into the mind of a woman who is not perfect but is doing the best she can, in her own way. As Dunham puts it, “I get it: I know nothing. But I also hope that future me will be proud of present me for trying to wrap my head around the big ideas and also for trying to make you feel like we are all in this together.”

And this may very well be the answer to Dunham and her book’s overall success (only a month after its release in September 2014, Not That Kind of Girl was number 2 on The New York Times best seller list). Dunham is the first person to admit, both on her TV show and in her memoir, that she is not perfect. But as she continuously proves to women around the globe, it’s okay to be flawed.


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