It was one thing for Lena Dunham to appoint herself as the representative for North Brooklyn by finagling Girls onto airwaves thanks to the clout of having certain parents and New York standing, but it was quite another for her to say simply, “Hey, I feel like releasing a book.” That “book” (but really memoir), Not That Kind of Girl, addressed with appropriate vitriol in Issue Four of The Opiate via an essay entitled “The Problem With the Children of New York,” was Dunham’s first taste of what it felt like to be a “literary” success. Perhaps this feeling of being a “serious artist” as opposed to a teleplay writer who takes her clothes off for shock value, became addictive to Dunham–and one supposes the New York Times Bestseller status didn’t hurt her ego either.
And so it “must” be that Dunham is now seeing fit to release a short story collection, entitled, somewhat expectedly in terms of annoyance factor, Best and Always. Dunham’s love of all things retro-chic of late (including her upcoming new “feminist” series, Max, for HBO centered around the inner-workings of a women’s magazine in the early 1960s) seem to be pervading her current output. Title aside, the content of the book thus far feels like a YA novel for “sophisticates” with an “old soul.”
Based on a recent short story of hers put out on Lenny Letter (another in what is becoming a steady stream of Dunham’s writerly vanity projects), “The Mechanic,” it appears as though Dunham is feeling particularly wistful, as the story centers around a college girl 21 years of age named Anna-Claire. Naturally, Anna-Claire (a name so odious to say in one’s mind, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to get through the entire short story), has an affair with a mechanic ten years her senior while “summering” in her parents’ Connecticut home.
Apart from the fact that this is garden variety white girl salaciousness, Dunham’s constant need to emulate J.D. Salinger–whether intentional or not–with her “frank accounts” featuring a “vintage feel” in a rural setting is not fooling anyone who can actually read–or write. Hannah Horvath may have attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but Dunham has a long way to go in proving herself to be an author of any sort of prowess or long-lasting sway in the ever-waning world of literature.