Lena Dunham, about whom you might think you already know everything, has written a book that tells you even more. It’s called Not That Kind of Girl; it features charming illustrations by Dunham’s friend Joana Avillez, and it’s out now via Random House. For anyone curious about what lies between the covers of this much-anticipated release, here are the answers to some burning questions:
HOW LENA DUNHAM-Y IS IT?
It is incredibly Lena Dunham-y. It is so Lena Dunham-y that I felt like Lena Dunham was reading the book to me herself, because I could hear the whole thing in her voice. That is a testament to how Lena Dunham-y Lena Dunham is, really. I tend to imagine myself into situations in which I was not actually present, because I’m maybe a little Lena Dunham-y too (that is to say, self-aware, which is to say, self-involved) but not once during the reading of this book did I picture any of the things Lena Dunham described happening to anyone other than Lena Dunham. Even in the stories from her childhood, she was just a shorter version of Lena Dunham.
SO, IF I HATE LENA DUNHAM, WILL I HATE THIS BOOK?
Oh yeah, almost definitely.
BUT WHAT IF I LOVE LENA DUNHAM…
You will enjoy this book.
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT LENA DUNHAM?
That’s OK, though you should know that Lena Dunham is kind of poised to encroach on your consciousness whether you like it or not, so you may have years to decide how you feel about her.
IS IT FUNNY? IS IT SAD? WILL IT OFFEND SOMEONE?
Sometimes, often, yes.
CAN SHE WRITE, THOUGH?
Yes, and she does very much, obviously. Reading Not That Kind of Girl makes it clear that Dunham, though she wears many hats, is primarily a storyteller. The story she is telling is hers, because, as she says in the introduction, “I want to tell my stories, and, more than that, I have to in order to stay sane.” Everything that happens to her and everyone she meets serves this story, which she has been telling for a very long time. She seems to remember everything, and what she does not remember, she invents; she does not deny this. Not That Kind of Girl is sometimes a memoir and sometimes a book of advice and sometimes very frustrating and sometimes very striking. It is frustrating because it does not quite know what it is, but it’s happening anyway, and the Lena of Lena’s Stories has shoulders you just want to grab and shake occasionally and a brain you can see inside of always. Also, girlfriend knows her way around a simile.
CAN YOU SUM UP THIS BOOK USING A SONG BY A LILITH FAIR ARTIST?
I can’t, really, but in keeping with the spirit of Not That Kind of Girl, a book which embraces the cringe-worthy, the song that immediately came to mind was arguably the most cringe-worthy song of Jewel’s oeuvre; not the song from the razor commercials, actually, but “Pieces of You.” Do you hate Lena Dunham because she’s pieces of you?
WHO SHOULD I GIVE THIS BOOK TO WHEN I’M DONE READING IT?
You should give this book to your little sister and make very strong eye contact with her while you do so, eye contact that says without words, “You may have already done or will do some things that will be very embarrassing to you in the future. I can’t stop you from doing them, but maybe if you learn from these things, and, like, really learn, not just ‘learn’ in quotation marks like on the cover of this book, which Lena Dunham probably did to seem at once unapologetically flippant and sincerely self-deprecating, you will grow. And it’s OK to be inspired and a little bit crushed by how productive Lena Dunham is, but please don’t feel too bad if you don’t write a bunch of books and movies and TV shows in your lifetime. You are still valuable and Lena Dunham thinks your stories are important and I love you. Just don’t include me in your tell-all memoir, OK?”
If you don’t have a little sister, you should hold onto this book, because Lena Dunham is definitely going to write more (indeed, she alludes to how scathing her future books will be toward all the people who will be dead by the time she writes them), and it might be fun to compare them to this one. It’s like a little time capsule, full of nostalgia. And vaginas. (So many vaginas.)