Friday, January 16, 2015

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

2.5 Stars

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“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter.”

This little book sure stirred up a hornet’s nest of reactions, huh? Wowza. I knew next to nothing about Lena Dunham when I decided to read this book. I had seen it on the “new and notable” shelf at the library, and that’s generally all it takes to get me to read something. Then I finally put two and two together and figured out this is the girl from Girls - a show I’ve never bothered to watch. Makes me an expert on reviewing this book, right? Right.

So here goes. I can go with the vast majority and agree that Lena Dunham is a very talented young girl. Emmys just don’t magically show up at your door for writing/starring in a shitty television show, know what I mean? On the other hand, she’s also someone who has made a name for herself by being over-the-top. She has been noted as a new voice for feminists, she shows up at award shows thumbing her nose at the masses in her ill-fitting thrift store finds, and she’s not ashamed to display every bit of her Rubenesque figure on screen. Like all famous people, she seeks attention – but unlike a lot of famous people, she doesn’t seem to give a rat’s butt if the attention is positive or negative.

Which leads us to the line in the oh so controversial essay in which Dunham describes being so curious about the female form that she decides to take a gander at her little sister’s hoo . . .

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(insert mass amount of people screaming how she is 100% sexual predator). Now, I might agree were it not for the fact that the above is followed by Dunham stating she discovered a virtual treasure trove of pebbles her sister had just so happened to decide to stick up her nether-yay-ya that very day that her mother then had to extract. This is where I find the need to bring my handy-dandy little assistant into the mix . . .

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Yep, I think Dunham is full of shit. I think she chose to insert this scandalous little tidbit in order to make herself seem more plucky or quirky or edgy or to prove that she’s nucking futs. She says herself:

“I’M AN UNRELIABLE NARRATOR. Because I add an invented detail to almost every story I tell about my mother. Because my sister claims every memory we “share” has been fabricated by me to impress a crowd.”

I agree. I think Dunham came from a life of privilege and didn’t have to struggle much in order to achieve a place on the A-list. I think she found herself famous at a very young age, was offered a book deal, and therefore had to invent a more interesting history for herself. Everyone got up in arms about the whole possible molestation confession above, but her story of attending a field trip to learn about the Underground Railroad wherein the teachers decided to shackle the children together, send them off looking for “safety” in the dark, and then chased them on horseback bounty hunter style is the story that really raised the level on my bullshit-o-meter . . .

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She goes on and on about not having any friends and having a crippling phobia about sex (when she’s 13 years old, no less) which requires 3-times a week extensive therapy sessions, but then later in the same book talks about her “successful 7th grade year in which she had no one but two popular boyfriends.”

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It’s like she doesn’t even remember what she wrote just a few chapters before. Sadly, I think all of these embellishments or fabrications were included because Dunham fears her one confession of a night where she made bad decisions that led her to be raped will be the story no one believes. Not that it matters much, but Lena I’m telling you right now you were raped and you shouldn’t feel like you have to apologize for it or include crazy half-true stories in order to justify your feelings with respect to the matter.

Now that that is out of the way, let me explain the reasoning behind my 2.5 Star rating. It’s simple . . . there just wasn’t enough story. Dunham isn’t even 30 years old, so she basically ran out of material when it came to writing a memoir. The beginning was hilarious and I didn’t mind the journal style free association type of flow at all. Segments like “18 Unlikely Things I’ve Said Flirtatiously,” “18 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother,” and her oversharing (like all of her failed sexual exploits and the admission that she gave herself colitis from drinking too much laxative tea) almost had me peeing myself with laughter. But once I hit the 74% mark it was a struggle to keep going. I realize that the who’s who probably fear Lena Dunham’s 15 minutes of fame might run out and jumped to cash in on her success pronto by offering her a book deal, but I think this book would have been much more successful had it been written a few years from now. Dunham needs a chance to settle in to fame, make peace with her past, and heal before putting her story out for the entire world to see.

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