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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ by Lena Dunham


    Courtesy of Amazon

    With personal essays entitled ʺWho Moved My Uterus?ʺ and ʺTake My Virginity,ʺ Lena Dunham’s new memoir matches the type of explicit humor seen on her HBO comedy, ʺGirls.ʺ

    If there’s a celebrity who has achieved any degree of recognizable fame, from Hillary Clinton to Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, chances are they have a multi-million dollar book deal in the works. The latest in this trend is Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s comedy “Girls,” who just released a book of personal essays called “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned.’”

    Dunham is no stranger to an unabashed discussion on the typically taboo, and “Not That Kind of Girl” is a tribute to her candor.

    From the story of having sex for the first time to conversations with her gynecologist about her uterus, there are few topics Dunham leaves to the imagination. Like Dunham’s frequent nudity in her portrayal of Hannah Horvath in “Girls,” her book mirrors her on-screen persona with a literal and figurative nakedness on the page.

    Dunham’s quirky and off-kilter personality oozes from every essay. Many of her essays begin with anecdotes from her childhood and extend into her adult years, and it’s evident that the middle school “awkward phase” we all wish we had outgrown is still present in Dunham — she’s just more willing to admit it than the rest of us. Her matter-of-fact humor carries the book and keeps the reader wondering what kooky and bizarre story Dunham will share next.

    However, the problem with Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl” is relatability. She’s familiar but foreign, ordinary yet eccentric. Her prose is funny, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. Her essays just miss the mark of some epiphany, like a written argument without a thesis. “Learned” being in quotes in the subtitle accomplishes the ironic goal of sharing her past, but the lessons of her anecdotes are not always obvious to her or the reader. Many of her essays fall flat, like helium slowly leaking out of a balloon.

    One could call the current era a Renaissance of women in the comedy scene. There’s Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Ellen DeGeneres, to name a few, all of whom have a book that’s published or soon-to-be published of both the personal memoir and self-help variety. Dunham, with multiple Emmy and Golden Globes nominations to rank her alongside these women, enters this teeming genre as the newcomer amongst seasoned greats. It’s hard to see how her book is necessary or groundbreaking with so many more to compete with.

    But perhaps that’s not the point, as Dunham makes clear. She writes, “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.”

    We need more women telling their stories whether the stories are funny, heartbreaking, awkward, ugly or beautiful. While Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl” isn’t the most riveting or memorable of these stories, it stands as a testament to the power of her honest ingenuity that offers a morsel of hope to the young and awkward.

    3/5 Stars


    Follow Mia Moran on Twitter.

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