Before I start this review, I feel like I should preface it with a disclaimer: when I was reading this, I was very aware that there were two ways this could go for people. It's not really a book you 'sit on the fence' about. It's a bit like the literary equivalent of Marmite.

Reading this for myself, a Lena Dunham fan and a fan of Girls, I can't say I was surprised. By any of it, really - content, and the surrounding controversy both before and after the book launch. Whilst I can't comment upon the ins and outs of what happened over the pay scandal, and I also don't really want to discuss any claims about sexual abuse (which, in the context of the book as a whole, seem pretty inflated to me) - I just want to talk about the writing. 

I will admit that, yes, as a narrative, Not That Kind of Girl sometimes loses itself for the sake of being a little 'shocking' or punctuating a moment with self-evaluation. If you've watched any of Girls or Tiny Furniture though, I feel like this won't be a surprise. Lena Dunham is more than a little self-obsessed, neurotic, and can come across as ridiculously pompous sometimes. But isn't that 90% of her success?

Girls is and continues to be a reflection of young twenty-somethings today and all of the ugly, embarrassing and sometimes downright awful choices we make. This book feels like an extension of that narrative line. If anything, actually, reading the book has convinced me that Lena might be more Hannah Horvath than she lets on, or would like to admit. Saying that I had to ask myself - is she a one-trick pony, or a genius? We've heard time and time again that good writers 'write what they know' and, if there's anything Lena Dunham can talk about, it's herself.

That sounds a little scathing, but hear me out - it's actually a compliment! If you know that you self-obsess to the point of neuroses, why not intellectualise it? Why not write about it, make art about it and finally, most liberatingly, laugh about it? After all, as Lena herself runs through to the point of exhaustion in 'Is It Even Real? Thoughts on Death and Dying' - we're all going the same way.

Overall I have to say after some initial skepticism, I emerged thinking that this move was shrewd from Lena. She could have attempted to write any book, and she has the proven chops to do it - but she wrote this book. This book that is all-too-aware that it is a twenty seven year old's memoir, and both celebrates and ridicules the fact. This book which harks back to the 'collected essays' style of books from the 70s, and does so stylishly, both aesthetically and in curation of content. Not That Kind of Girl, kind of inevitably, won me over, just like Lena herself continues to do.

6 comments

  1. What a well written review! I've had this book lying in my "to read" pile since it came out, and this has inspired me to finally read it...

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    1. Thank you so much Bella! I'm so glad this inspired you to read and I really hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading and commenting. T xx

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  2. Very well written and fair review I think. I really like Lena a lot, but even when I watch Girls, Tiny Furniture etc I do have a bit of a wince at how self indulgent she is sometimes. BUT, weren't we all in our 20's? And if you're middle class and painfully self obsessed like most of us are/were then why not embrace it instead of pretending to be something else. She's definitely Marmite, but I keep a big jar in my house at all times so I'm all for it.

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    1. Thank you so much Siobhan - it was hard to try and be objective when writing this, as I do genuinely like her work and I didn't want to discount people that had no knowledge of her, but I think what you said is so right - she IS cringe-inducing, but you can either take it or you can't! And hello, fellow Marmite lover. Let's be pals. T xx

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  3. Ooh I'm looking forward to reading this now, I've never even seen Girls so should be interesting to see how our options vary xx

    http://lauratalksout.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you've read it Laura! Thanks so much for reading and commenting as always <33 T xx

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