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Not That Kind of Girl
Cover of Not That Kind of Girl
Not That Kind of Girl
A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes two new essays!NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes two new essays!NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes two new essays!

    NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES • 
    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED, THE GLOBE AND MAIL, AND LIBRARY JOURNAL

    For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays establishes Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the most original young talents writing today.

     
    In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.
     
    “Take My Virginity (No Really, Take It)” is the account of Dunham’s first time, and how her expectations of sex didn’t quite live up to the actual event (“No floodgate had been opened, no vault of true womanhood unlocked”); “Girls & Jerks” explores her former attraction to less-than-nice guys—guys who had perfected the “dynamic of disrespect” she found so intriguing; “Is This Even Real?” is a meditation on her lifelong obsession with death and dying—what she calls her “genetically predestined morbidity.” And in “I Didn’t F*** Them, but They Yelled at Me,” she imagines the tell-all she will write when she is eighty and past caring, able to reflect honestly on the sexism and condescension she has encountered in Hollywood, where women are “treated like the paper thingies that protect glasses in hotel bathrooms—necessary but infinitely disposable.”
     
    Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not That Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.”

    Praise for Not That Kind of Girl
     
    “The gifted Ms. Dunham not only writes with observant precision, but also brings a measure of perspective, nostalgia and an older person’s sort of wisdom to her portrait of her (not all that much) younger self and her world. . . . As acute and heartfelt as it is funny.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
     
    “It’s not Lena Dunham’s candor that makes me gasp. Rather, it’s her writing—which is full of surprises where you least expect them. A fine, subversive book.”—David Sedaris
     
    “This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises.”—Carroll Dunham
     
    “Witty, illuminating, maddening, bracingly bleak . . . [Dunham] is a genuine artist, and a disturber of the order.”The Atlantic
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book I worked at the baby store for nine months.

    Just recently graduated, I had stormed out of my restaurant job on a whim, causing my father to yell, “You can’t just do that! What if you had children?”

    “Well, thank God I don’t!” I yelled right back.

    At this point, I was living in a glorified closet at the back of my parents’ loft, a room they had assigned me because they thought I would graduate and move out like a properly evolving person. The room had no windows, and so, in order to get a glimpse of daylight, I had to slide open the door to my sister’s bright, airy room. “Go away,” she would hiss.

    I was unemployed. And while I had a roof over my head (my parents’) and food to eat (also technically theirs), my days were shapeless, and the disappointment of the people who loved me (my parents) was palpable. I slept until noon, became defensive when asked about my plans for the future, and gained weight like it was a viable profession. I was becoming the kind of adult parents worry about producing.

    I had been ambitious once. In college, all I seemed to do was found literary magazines with inexplicable names and stage experimental black—box theater and join teams (rugby, if only for a day or so). I was eager and hungry: for new art, for new friendship, for sex. Despite my ambivalence about academia, college was a wonderful gig, thousands of hours to tend to yourself like a garden. But now I was back to zero. No grades. No semesters. No CliffsNotes in case of emergency. I was lost.

    It’s not that I didn’t have plans. Oh, I had plans. Just none that these small minds could understand. My first idea was to be the assistant to a private eye. I was always being accused of extreme nosiness, so why not turn this character flaw into cold hard cash? After hunting around on Craigslist, however, it soon became clear that most private eyes worked alone—-or if they needed an assistant, they wanted someone with the kind of sensual looks to bait cheating husbands. The second idea was baker. After all, I love bread and all bread by—products. But no, that involved waking up at four every morning. And knowing how to bake. What about preschool art teacher? Turns out that involved more than just a passion for pasta necklaces. There would be no rom—com—ready job for me.

     
    The only silver lining in my situation was that it allowed me to reconnect with my oldest friends, Isabel and Joana. We were all back in Tribeca, the same neighborhood where we had met in preschool. Isabel was finishing her sculpture degree, living with an aging pug named Hamlet who had once had his head run over by a truck and survived. Joana had just completed art school and was sporting the festive remains of a bleached mullet. I had broken up with the hippie boyfriend I considered my bridge to health and wholeness and was editing a “feature film” on my laptop. Isabel was living in her father’s old studio, which she had decorated with found objects, standing racks of children’s Halloween costumes, and a TV from 1997. When the three of us met there to catch up, Joana’s nails painted like weed leaves and Monets, I felt at peace.
    Isabel was employed at Peach and the Babke, a high—end children’s clothing store in our neighborhood. Isabel is a true eccentric—-not the self—conscious kind who collects feathers and snow globes but the kind whose passions and predilections are so genuinely out of sync with the world at large that she herself becomes an object of fascination. One day Isabel had strolled into the...

About the Author-

  • Lena Dunham is the creator of the critically acclaimed HBO series Girls, for which she also serves as executive producer, writer, and director. She has been nominated for eight Emmy awards and has won two Golden Globes, including Best Actress, for her work on Girls. She was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America award for directorial achievement in comedy. Dunham has also written and directed two feature-length films (including Tiny Furniture in 2010) and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
     
    Joana Avillez is an illustrator and the author of Life Dressing, a tale of two women who live to dress and dress to live. Her artwork has been featured in The New York Times, New York, and The Wall Street Journal.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 6, 2014
    Reviewed by Rachel Deahl. Filmmaker (Tiny Furniture) and TV creator (Girls) Dunham has been compared to all manner of comic intellectual impresarios, from Woody Allen to Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. This makes it all the more delightful that Dunham mines her first book from an unexpected source: Helen Gurley Brown's Having It All, which she stumbled upon in a thrift store in college. Dunham hopes that her collection of personal essays will do for its intended readers—the young and female—what the one-time Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief's 1982 guide did for her. Having It All is, Dunham admits, full of mostly dated and "bananas" advice—on everything from dieting to man pleasing—but it imparted an important takeaway: meek women can inherit success, love, and self-worth, if not the Earth. Dunham is not unlike these women (or "Mouseburgers," in Brown's words), who can, she explains, "triumph, having lived to tell the tale of being overlooked and underloved." She breaks her book into sections ("Love & Sex," "Body," "Work," etc.) and offers tales of her own experiences being overlooked and underloved. If that sounds corny or overly earnest, the essays that compose the book are neither. They're dark, discomforting, and very funny. Whether discussing her forays into yo-yo dieting (" ‘Diet' Is a Four-Letter Word") or the time she thinks she might have been raped ("Barry"), Dunham is expert at combining despair and humor. Describing a misanthropic ex, she writes: "His critical nature proved suffocating—he hated my skirts, my friends, and my work. He hated rom-coms and just plain coms." The book is filled with amusing phrases like this one, as Dunham delivers sad—and probably, for many readers, sadly familiar—tales of hating her body and trying too hard to make undeserving men love her. Dunham is an oddly polarizing figure in today's culture—maybe because she's too young and successful; maybe because she gets conflated her with Hannah Horvath, her self-involved character on Girls; or maybe simply because her detractors are louder than her fans—but hopefully this won't keep readers away from this collection. It would be a shame, because the book is touching, at times profound, and deeply funny. It also addresses something that other female funny people of Dunham's stature do not. The myth, as Gurley Brown and others have laid it out, is that we can shed our Mouseburger selves to become something better. While Dunham is eager for that something better, she doesn't want to lose sight of the Mouseburger inside. This is one of the things she grapples with throughout these essays: how we become accepted and loved and popular, without casting aside, or trying to hide, the unloved, unpopular people we once were. In fact, Dunham seems to want to revel in the dark spaces—the terrifying and awkward moments in life—which is pretty great. Not only does this provide her wonderful material, but it's an invigorating, refreshing slap in the face to a world that is so unwelcoming to all the amusing, sweet, smart Mouseburgers out there. (Sept. 30) Rachel Deahl is PW's News Director.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 22, 2014
    Filmmaker (Tiny Furniture) and TV creator and actress (Girls) Dunham writes about everything from work and love to dieting in this sharp and often salacious essay collection. The essays are funny and raw, but these qualities are hard to detect in the audio edition because Dunham gives a somewhat lackluster reading of her book. Her pacing is slow and restrained, which seems at odds with the tone of the essays. The result is somewhat unengaging, and the essays begin to bleed into each other. Occasionally Dunham impersonates the people she writes about—she gives a relationship expert a thick New York accent and puts on a low, dopey voice for some of the men she describes—livening up the performance a bit. A Knopf hardcover.

  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2014

    If you've seen the high-flying and critically admired HBO series, Girls, for which Dunham serves as creator, star, writer, director, and executive producer, you won't be surprised that this collection of autobiographical essays is really out-there honest.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Miranda July "The gifted [Lena] Dunham not only writes with observant precision, but also brings a measure of perspective, nostalgia and an older person's sort of wisdom to her portrait of her (not all that much) younger self and her world. . . . As acute and heartfelt as it is funny."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "It's not Lena Dunham's candor that makes me gasp. Rather, it's her writing--which is full of surprises where you least expect them. A fine, subversive book."--David Sedaris "This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises."--Carroll Dunham "Witty, illuminating, maddening, bracingly bleak . . . [Dunham] is a genuine artist, and a disturber of the order."--The Atlantic "As [Lena] Dunham proves beyond a shadow of a doubt in Not That Kind of Girl, she's not remotely at risk of offering up the same old sentimental tales we've read dozens of times. Dunham's outer and inner worlds are so eccentric and distinct that every anecdote, every observation, every mundane moment of self-doubt actually feels valuable and revelatory."--The Los Angeles Review of Books "We are forever in search of someone who will speak not only to us but for us. . . . Not That Kind of Girl is from that kind of girl: gutsy, audacious, willing to stand up and shout. And that is why Dunham is not only a voice who deserves to be heard but also one who will inspire other important voices to tell their stories too."--Roxane Gay, Time "I'm surprised by how successful this was. I couldn't finish it."--Laurie Simmons "Always funny, sometimes wrenching, these essays are a testament to the creative wonder that is Lena Dunham."--Judy Blume "An offbeat and soulful declaration that Ms. Dunham can deliver on nearly any platform she chooses."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times "Very few women have become famous for being who they actually are, nuanced and imperfect. When honesty happens, it's usually couched in self-ridicule or self-help. Dunham doesn't apologize like that--she simply tells her story as if it might be interesting. The result is shocking and radical because it is utterly familiar. Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition."

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