Rating: 3 out of 5
As for my latest audiobook review, when it comes to Lena Dunham, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I love watching her show "Girls" and admire her dedication to depicting realistic portrayals of beauty, love, sex, and friendship. I respect her as a proud feminist, raising money for Planned Parenthood on her book tour and speaking out against misogyny in the media.
On the other hand, I recognize the level of privilege that Dunham has attained and understand criticisms that she has not done enough in regards to representing people of color on-screen. Let's face it, if her parents weren't renowned artists and she wasn't able to attend prestigious schools like Saint Ann's and Oberlin, it's less likely that she would have gained such an exalted place in the arts community and impressed Hollywood enough to give her $3.5 million to write a memoir at the mere age of 28.
Of course, I also realize that male artists do not receive such flack like female artists do, which is why I don't mean to single Dunham out. She's certainly not the first rich white person who became famous thanks to the nepotistic network she was born into, and she won't be the last.
This is why it can be difficult to relate to Dunham. Her book Not The Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned' suffers from the same navel-gazing that "Girls" does. Dunham can't help it: the first rule of writing is to write what you know, and all Dunham has known is her upper class world in New York.
In this world, Dunham is a special snowflake, coddled by her parents, nannies, educators, and therapists. She discusses working in retail and finally dating a nice guy after a series of jerks...which all sounds relatable until you learn that her boyfriend is Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Fun., and her part-time gig was at Geminola, a vintage boutique that supplied outfits to "Sex and the City" and is owned by the mother of her friend/costar Jemima Kirke.
That's not to say that Dunham hasn't experienced hardships in her life. Suffering from OCD, anxiety, and depression, Dunham has spent most of her life keeping her mental illness at bay, whether that be with her prescriptions or self-medicating with drugs, such as cocaine.
She also writes about her excruciatingly painful endometriosis and a heartbreaking incident in which she was raped by a friend of a friend in college. I applaud her for discussing these experiences and normalizing them for her readers, even if there's little in Dunham's life that could constitute what most Americans consider normal. At least by putting herself out there, women around the world can know that they are not alone.
I enjoyed the audiobook because it allowed me to hear her tone and get a better sense of her storytelling. Although some parts don't shine through orally, like her unnecessarily long entries in her food diary, there were many gems of writing that either amused or inspired me.
Ultimately, I wished that Dunham would have spent less time romanticizing her own neuroticism and more time revealing behind the scenes stories of "Girls." It's the same issue that I had with Samantha Bee's I Know I Am, But What Are You? Fans are less interested to hear the backstory from before you were famous than the juicy tales behind why you're famous.
Let's hope that the next memoir on everyone's to-read list, Amy Poehler's Yes Please, makes up for these disappointments by being a book that not only speaks to me, but also speaks for me.