Lena Dunham’s New Book and the Increasing Badness of Personal Essay Novels

Let’s get one thing straight. Everything contained within Lena Dunham’s memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, can be found at once proudly displayed on Girls. If you’ve already suffered through the protracted grumblings of this show, then you needn’t bother picking up a copy of the book, unless, of course, you’re in it for the hate read.

A memoir about "having it all"
A memoir about “having it all”
In the introduction, Dunham already asserts her self-aggrandizing nature with the line, “There is nothing gustier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman.” First of all, Dunham’s constant need to champion herself as a woman for women is utterly annoying and, second of all, there is nothing worse that a person announcing their story deserves to be told, man or woman. For fuck’s sake, hasn’t Dunham told it enough on Girls?
Illustration from Not That Kind of Girl
Illustration from Not That Kind of Girl
The trouble with not just Dunham’s, but any personal essay novel (a.k.a. memoir), is that none of the celebrities who write them ever seem to have a modicum of modesty. Sure both Dunham and Tina Fey (who wrote her book, Bossypants, in 2013) have made careers out of self-deprecation, but this does not correlate with humbleness. This can make for some highly insincere and/or banal literature. Take a goddamn page from Emily Dickinson and wait until you die to get published if you want anyone to take your passion for what it is: a genuine passion–not a means for attention. Everything about Dunham’s “prose style” screams that she’s extremely confident in herself under the guise of being self-loathing–because that’s what her particular audience wants to hear, even if it isn’t what she’s really about anymore (a shit ton of money and fame is liable to elevate anyone’s mood). Even the latest bout of publicity damage is unlikely to have truly shaken her delusions of grandeur. But it would seem those with delusions of grandeur make the most money of all.