Quill and Quire

Authors

« Back to
Quillblog

Lena Dunham on writing books, Nora Ephron, and Drunk Mom

JFL-=DunhamClose to 3,000 fans piled into Toronto’s Sony Centre Saturday night to witness the pop-culture phenomenon known as Lena Dunham, in town headlining the JFL42 comedy festival. (Little did anyone know that Dunham was planning a return trip to Toronto on Oct. 23 for a free appearance at the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon – a coup for TPL’s new programmer Yvonne Hunter.)

Although Dunham’s new book, Not that Kind of Girl (Doubleday Canada), doesn’t hit shelves until Sept. 30, the evening was organized more like a launch than a comedy special. There was some contention on social media over the choice of Jian Ghomeshi as host – Dunham’s U.S. book tour events feature all women hosts, including cooler-than-thou cultural icons like Carrie Brownstein, Zadie Smith, and Amy Schumer – however, Ghomeshi effortlessly guided the conversation, which touched on everything from Dunham’s hermetic tendencies to the necessity for men to be involved in the feminist movement.

Here are a few quotes from the night:

On writing a book at 28 …
There’s a lot of stigma – maybe just for me because I’m a snobby little reader – around books that feel like somebody has done enough in their life that “I guess it’s time to write a book about all the famous people I’ve run into” … I want to make writing and writing books part of my career and my evolving creative process, and really make space for it. I feel totally lucky because it could have been very easy for the people I work with to say, “Why would you write a book now?” But they really respected that I have this drive and that it was something that had to happen for me.

On Nora Ephron …
It was a very essential relationship. I think it’s really important to have role models to watch people live the life you can imagine for yourself, and to watch people who deal with everything that comes their way with strength … She had this very admirable strength, grace, and beauty and wit and intelligence. The fact that she let me into her life and was able to share her wisdom with me – I shudder to think what I would be without it. So often when I have a problem emerge, I think, “I wish I could call her” … I knew the minute she passed away the book would be for her.

On what she’s reading right now …
I’m reading a book by a Canadian author right now, Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska. I started it on the airplane last night and it’s really very intense, a very brave, very complicated story. It’s a difficult book, and I found my jaw on the floor, which doesn’t happen that often to me. I love the way that she approaches prose – I think it’s really beautiful. It was recommended to me by my friend Sheila Heti, who just put out a new book, Women in Clothes, that’s incredible, with Leanne Shapton, who’s an amazing writer, and Heidi Julavits. It’s a real powerhouse of women talking about cool things.