Not That Kind of Girl
London, Fourth Estate, 2014, 265p
When I found myself painfully jealous of a friend who was reading this book that I realised I had to get a copy. Lena Dunham's biography has caused some controversy already, and although I am not a religious watcher of 'Girls', I must confess I am intrigued by her.
Not That Kind of Girl is a funny, intelligent and sometimes disturbing account of Dunham's life so far. She talks about health, family and romance, and everything in between. She tells the reader she is a girl with a "keen interest in having it all", and this book is her story from "the front line of that struggle".
Dunham's youth is uniquely peculiar to me. She was born to artistic, liberal parents in New York, and her eccentricity and individuality have always been encouraged. In places, it sounds like she has low self-esteem (for example, when she discusses the common plight of the young woman who settles for a non-relationship with a guy who is clearly not good enough); and at other points, she explodes with self-assurance and good advice.
I had been warned that this biography is far from uplifting, but it was darker than I had expected, with confessions about her reliance on her therapist and descriptions of rubbish relationships. But within those moments that make your heart break, there are episodes that make you laugh out loud. Mostly, I simply admire her honesty.
I am conscious I am going through a phase of reading biographies of this kind - those of young, successful, strong women in comedy (see my recent review of Mindy Kaling's book). And I cannot wait to read Amy Poehler's recent release! With each of these women, I find some things to relate to and some things with which I disagree, but what my readings are demonstrating is that the female experience is varied and unique to each person - how can anyone stereotype about women when we are all so different?
Thanks to Jay for inspiration.