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What Kind of Writer Does Lena Dunham Want to Be?

What Kind of Writer Does Lena Dunham Want to Be?

What’s on Lena Dunham’s bookshelf? As her book tour gets going, the “Girls” creator and literary debutante wants to tell you what she’s reading, and what books inspired her essay collection “Not That Kind of Girl.” Random House paid a $3.7 million advance for the book which, like her scandal-courting HBO series, documents Dunham’s pratfalls as a young woman, including horribly awkward social and sexual encounters.

So it’s no surprise that Dunham cites wisecracking feminist icon Nora Ephron’s “Wallflower at the Orgy” as a personal fave. She also loves Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” a fitting favorite for Dunham, who has committed her career to breaking sexual taboos in art: “It challenges our perceptions of what a relationship can and should be, and you will cry for Humbert Humbert even as you want to murder him. Also, there is a lot of sex.” Doesn’t that sound like “Girls”? (Here’s her Barnes and Noble interview.)

Dunham also shares favorites with Strand: Zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Alice Waters, David Sedaris, Daphne Du Maurier, George Saunders, Thomas Hardy, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides and Shirley Jackson round out her personal canon. All real writer’s writers. I’m also glad to see she loves Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary,” which is also about a woman who throws all prudence to the wind and fully embraces her sexuality.

“Not That Kind of Girl,” whether you like it or not, has sparked some great critical writing: New Statesman’s Helen Lewis writes the compelling case for why “Lena Dunham is not real,” while Slate’s Katy Waldman parses her uncertainties about the book. And then there’s Michiko Kakutani’s deal-sealing rave in The New York Times, which means the rest is history.

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