In this week’s New Yorker, Lena Dunham writes about the first man she ever loved. And also about his terrible mother, who does things like put clarified butter in her eyes because “it was supposedly an Ayurvedic tradition.” Dunham recalls that this same woman—”Nancy”—also routinely did cleanses, which, frankly, is the sign of a troubled person.
I’m sorry but that’s just my opinion on people who routinely do cleanses.
And it’s possibly a fact.
Dunham writes about her relationship and its demise, depicting it as her first, and maybe only, experience of love. She knew it was love because she would tell the man, “Noah,” that she “hoped we would die at the same time in the mouth of a lion.”
She also wore clogs to make him happy. I feel about clogs the way that I feel about people who routinely do cleanses.
For a while, Lena and “Noah” lived in a Brooklyn Heights sublet that belonged to her “high-school voice teacher.” Then he broke up with her because he was gay.
But that’s not the point. The point, such as it is, is that “Nancy” blocked Lena on Facebook and this sent Lena spiraling to the point where she called her mother who was vacationing in Deer Isle, Maine for advice. Which, incidentally, leads me to the best part of this piece. The best part is that Dunham makes sure to mention the fact that her mother was sitting stationed by a land line phone. This is an important detail because there is NO CELL RECEPTION in Deer Isle, Maine. People whose texts you can’t respond to need to know this because, yes, Maine is in America, but NO, it still does not have any good reception.
Deer Isle, Maine: Where Relationships Go to Die Because Cell Phones Don’t Fucking Work
So. What are the other points brought up in Dunham’s Personal History in The New Yorker, a magazine that is probably still thought of as the most important and venerable literary journal published today?
Well, one point is partly that parents still don’t understand how to use social media. They take it both too seriously (“Nancy” sends Lena an official “I’m fond of you but need to have boundaries, so I’m blocking you” Facebook message) and also not seriously enough (if “Nancy” can’t understand that this would be offensive, then “Nancy” is an idiot.)
Here’s another thing to think about though. The Atlantic compares Dunham’s essay with the things that are published in Thought Catalog, which we think is unfair because Thought Catalog is pretty seriously awful, but it raises an interesting point nonetheless.
The point being: why did The New Yorker publish this? While Dunham’s voice is funny and smart, and Dunham is extremely talented, this essay seems like a retread of, well, just about everything she’s ever done. In fact, Gawker writes that Dunham read a piece that was remarkably similar to the one in The New Yorker at an event that occurred two years ago.
And while self-plagiarizing apparently isn’t the HUGEST of problems for The New Yorker (what’s up, Jonah Lehrer!) shouldn’t the magazine WANT new material? Or are they just not interested in content as long as they can promote a piece by someone with as big of a platform as Dunham? I mean, New Yorker, have you no shame?
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