As a big fan of the HBO show Girls, I decided to give Lena Dunham’s book Not That Kind of Girl a listen. Dunham writes, produces and stars in Girls, a show about four 20 somethings in New York City navigating the post college life of work, love and finding their place in the world. Does it remind me of my post college days in New York? A little. I can still relate to the angst about what I wanted to do “when I grow up” and remember the youthful arrogance that only those with little life experience possess. I thought the show’s characters unbelievable due to their exaggerated caricatures; that is until I listened to Not that Kind of Girl.
Turns out Dunham is very much like her character Hannah; an anxious young woman riddled with insecurities who thinks about everything in relation to herself. She is disarmingly honest and refreshingly self-aware about her egocentricities. It is clear that a lot of the plot line from Girls is drawn from her own life. She refers to Not That Kind of Girl as a collection of essays but I think it is more like diary entries. The first part of the book is a tour of Dunham’s non-relationships from Middle School to present day. I had a hard time relating due to my age and because she sounds so uncomfortable reading her own book aloud. I usually enjoy books read by the author. It is their material so there is a familiarity and ease in their reading, but Dunham’s reading style sounds like she is presenting a paper to a class and trying to get it all in before the bell rings. Thankfully by the the middle of the book she seems more comfortable and gets into the stride of her conversational tone. Once she starts recounting childhood memories and anecdotes about growing up in Manhattan, the child of artist parents, I started enjoying the book.
I don’t think this book would have gotten half the coverage or acclaim it did if she were not the “it” girl of the 20 something set. Though disjointed in flow, I still found most of her stories amusing and at times touching. For some reason she felt she had to make some kind of profound sense of it all and closes the book with some nonsense that I tuned out and am sure she will cringe about ten years from now. Am I glad I listened to it? Yes. If you are a fan of Girls you will enjoy it? Maybe, just don’t expect too much.