I didn’t expect to enjoy Not That Kind of Girl as much as I did. But Lena Dunham happens to be a terrific writer—funny and surprising, with lots of rhetorical moves.
On the one hand, this is very much a New York trade book: the high concept packaging includes a canny title and cute line drawings; its prose is snappy and dry-eyed for all its introspection; and it is fittingly dedicated to the late Nora Ephron. On the other, Dunham’s turn at one point to second-person point of view and her regular inclusion of segmented essays—numbered lists with neat juxtapositions—bespeaks a writer who imbibed a high creative nonfiction aesthetic in the groves of academe. Not That Kind of Girl exudes a neat hybrid synergy. Kind of like Dunham herself, with her Jewish mother and Protestant father.
Dunham portrays herself as a mess growing up and coming of age, so full of excess emotion and so plagued by phobias that you’re regularly appalled—and steadily entertained. And surprised by her meteoric rise as an actress-director-producer-writer. Except she was graced with enviably tolerant, indulgent, and long-suffering artist parents. She’s a perfect storm of nature and nurture. Her parents raised their difficult, obsessive-compulsive daughter with love, and it shows.
They also got her professional help. Repeatedly.