Like you were at the book club but without the cake or the spoilers
This month the book club read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. It’s a semi-maybe-probably not-autobiographical set of essays for which Dunham was reportedly paid a casual three point five million dollars. It’s another in the line of brutally honest memoirs, (and by brutally honest I mean refers to the author’s vagina) but this time it’s by a twenty-something who has been touted just about everywhere as the “voice of a generation”.
Dunham seems to have set out to be brutally honest with her readers about her whole life: no subject off limits despite how harrowing or horrifyingly embarrassing they may be, but actually her writing – even if it does contain facts – doesn’t really seem very honest.
She hides behind the mask of this over-sharing character, like a person who desperately tries to convince everyone how quirky they are. To be totally honest at points it felt like she actually lied or vastly exaggerated the events that occurred. She speaks about London in one particularly unbelievable chapter and refers to the fact she ate a Chicken Pot Pie, saw a half-eaten pudding cup and walked along cobbled roads none of which are terribly common in London.
She can also be horrifyingly self-involved as a writer: at one point she spends a chapter recounting a food diary she kept. That’s ten minutes of my life that’s gone Lena, it’s gone and I’m not getting it back. This was for many book clubbers a particular low point – it was a joke that worked 20 years ago in Bridget Jones’ Diary but is feeling a tiny bit thin these days. And that brings us to the biggest criticism of the book for most of us: it just wasn’t that funny. Yeah sure there were some lols but they weren’t frequent or very loud and in this sort of a book that’s almost a crime against humanity.
She certainly isn’t the voice of a generation and, as you can possibly tell by now, not many were particularly in love with the book. Also none of us could quite work out if she was an annoying, narcissistic slice of over-privilege or an incredibly well written parody of an annoying, narcissistic slice of over-privilege. And I’m not sure Dunham really knows either.
Blog by Jodie Major for Shoreditch Sisters WI