Girls creator Dunham reveals all—about losing her virginity, finding a therapist, shooting a series of Web videos about 20-somethings living aimless lives and more.
The book’s jacket recalls the 1970s, when Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown was coaching “mouseburgers” on “having it all.” Dunham opens by saying she’d like to do the same thing for today’s young women that Brown did for her when she picked up Having It All at a thrift store when she was in college: Let them know “a powerful, confident, and yes, even sexy woman could be made, not born.” Dunham then spends the first two sections of the book, “Love & Sex” and “Body,” writing mostly about embarrassing sex, bad breakups and traumatic trips to the gynecologist (“Last summer my vagina started to sting”) while forestalling criticism by saying that her “true friends,” those she imagined when she was an unhappy college student, would “never, ever say ‘too much information’ when you mention a sex dream you had about your father.” The problem isn’t that the author gives us too much information; the problem is that it’s repetitive and often boring, lacking the humor and stylishness of Nora Ephron or Tina Fey. Things pick up in the third section, “Friendship,” but it’s a bit surprising to read this on Page 129: “I know that when I am dying, looking back, it will be women…I sought to impress, to understand, was tortured by.” So why take so long to get to them? The fourth section, “Work,” provides some interesting background on Dunham’s life leading up to Girls, but the last section, “Big Picture,” feels like odds and ends that didn’t fit elsewhere, including essays on therapy, summer camp and hypochondria.
Dunham shows flashes of the humor and sharp eye that make Girls so compelling, but the pleasure of watching the TV show doesn’t translate to the page.