Tag Archives: Lena Dunham

Review: Not That Kind of Girl

Recap: Lena Dunham is a woman who has something to say. Like her or not, she uses her platform to proudly proclaim her thoughts and opinions and is willing to use any medium available to do it. Her book of essays is no exception. After years of fictionalizing semi-autobiographical vignettes of women in their twenties on her TV show Girls, she put her pen to the page in this more honestly revealing look at her life to date. She acknowledges that she is young and has so much more to go, and reading her book five years after publication proves as much. In some ways, it’s dated already. Since publication, Dunham and her long-term boyfriend, who is openly written about in several essays, broke up. She also had several major medical emergencies and surgeries and became clean and sober. Her life proves that much of what you think you know in your twenties gets flipped on its head by the time you turn 30.

But as “dated” as the book is in terms of the plot twists of her personal life is how timeless the book is at the same time. She writes openly about losing her virginity, sexual assault, falling in love, falling out of love, breakup with guys, breakups with friends, the power of female friendship, the seemingly always difficult relationship women have with food and their bodies and her experiences with drugs, alcohol, family and the professional working world. Hers is a book and a story and a life that’s relatable for any woman. They’re experiences that, good or bad, that little girls and young women will continue to have for years to come, no matter what generation they fall into.

That may be what makes her book so powerful. This is not some celebrity memoir, dripping with scandal and salacious details of behind-the-scenes hookups and drug problems. Nor is it an opportunity to use her name to announce a political or social do-gooder platform. It’s also not a self-help book, pronouncing herself the knower of all things. It’s simply her story, her life as a person, a woman and nothing else.

Analysis: It’s her honesty that makes the book work, but also her writing. Her simultaneously self-deprecating and ostentatiously prideful humor seeps into every chapter in a way that made me laugh and sometimes shout “Yes! Exactly!” But in darker moments and depictions of assault and disordered eating, my heart hurt. She writes in a matter-of-fact way, not meant to incur sympathy. I respect that.

The book was divided by large sections: Love & Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture. Each essay is placed in whatever chapter it fits best thematically. There’s no timeline. Everything’s out of order. Some stories are from college, some as young as when she was two years old. I found myself wondering if she wrote the book all at once or if she pulled from journal entries and essays she wrote in real-time throughout her life. They were just so detailed, it was impressive to me that she would still recall certain nuggets of information and deep emotions from 10, 15, even 20 years earlier.

Some essays were so brief, I was left to wonder what their significance was. But all together, it was a well-structured mess of stories paralleling the well-structured mess she tends to portray on TV, in movies, on red carpets and Instagram: the honest, well-structured mess so many of us are and try to hide, but Lena Dunham does not.

Get Not That Kind of Girl in paperback now for $9.89.

Or on your Kindle for $6.99.

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Another Slew of Celebrity Memoirs

It happens every few years now — or really, maybe every few months — that a slew of young celebrities write and publish memoirs. In recent memory, those published by female comics have been the most successful. (Think: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling.) But in the coming year, the waters will be tested by actresses, singers, and writers who are all set to release memoirs.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Glee star Naya Rivera is set to release a memoir, entitled Sorry, Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up. Hers will detail her career ups and downs as well as her time spent on the popular Fox TV show, Glee, which ended its run earlier this year. Rivera’s book is set to be released next spring.

Entertainment Weekly also reports actress Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her turn in the Oscar-winning film Precious and the new Fox TV show Empire, is also working on a memoir. Hers is due out in 2017.

We can expect yet another memoir from singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, according to Entertainment Weekly. Hers will be a book of essays, detailing her life and the stories behind many of her songs. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) In Song is set to be released October 6th of this year.

Finally, Variety reports TV show creator/writer/producer Shonda Rhimes will also be releasing a memoir sometime this year. No release date has been announced, but Rhimes says hers will focus on how she’s managed her career as a single mother.

Now here’s the thing about memoirs. While I’m fascinated by young celebrities, I don’t usually feel that their life experiences warrant a decent memoir. So I’m hesitant to read Rivera’s or Sidibe’s. Wait until you’re old! Wait until you have more to talk about!

Sara Bareilles gets a pass because an explanation of songs is always fun. But more importantly, I expect more from her and Shonda Rhimes because they’re professional writers. The reason Fey, Poehler, Dunham and Kaling have all had successful books isn’t just because they’re funny females; it’s because they’re skilled at writing. A memoir is just a sidestep away from a TV or movie script.

I guess we’ll see how my predictions of more success with Rhimes and Bareilles’ memoirs hold up…

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Lena Dunham Signs $3.5M Book Deal

It’s the book analysts are saying will be the next big comedic memoir/bestseller since Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Last week, Random House announced it had acquired a more than $3.5 million dollar book deal with writer, director, actress Lena Dunham. Dunham created, wrote, and starred in the hit TV comedy Girls, which aired its first season on HBO this summer.

According to The New York Times, Dunham’s book is a collection of essays entitled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She Learned. Dunham started shopping around a 66-page proposal, including illustrations and anecdotes to a number of different publishing companies. A bidding war is what led to the astronomical $3.5+ million deal. But Random House beat the others out in the end.

Random House is comparing Dunham’s work to writers like Nora Ephron and David Sedaris. The publisher says it will include stories about sex, food, traveling, and work. No word yet on when the book will be released.

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