Lena Dunham, Emily Dickinson, and Jean Rhys

I was determined to post a “stop-and-jot” (a speedy post) about Elizabeth Strout’s new collection of stories, Anything Is Possible.  Well, I posted something, but it is very wishy-washy, because, even  though I  disliked the book, I (a) wanted to be fair, and (b) I was aware that  reviewers at Goodreads, The New York Times, and Washington Post are ecstatic.

So it’s pointless to post about a book you dislike, unless you wickedly enjoy writing a hatchet-job.

To make up for the lack of inspiration on that post,  here are three literary links.

Lena Dunham

1. Lena Dunham, author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl and creator, star, and writer of the late TV series Girls, is always in trouble for saying what she thinks.  The Guardian reports that her latest joke about abortion incited much internet indignation.

…Most recently, Dunham was the subject of a media furore after an episode of her podcast Women of the Hour, in which she joked: “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.” During the episode, Dunham had been talking about how women like her still internalise stigma about abortion; she later apologised, calling the joke “distasteful” – but the renewed vitriol from all corners of the internet had become increasingly difficult to ignore.

From the perspective of a longtime NARAL volunteer, I wonder:  when will we be allowed to admit we’re  pro-abortion? We’ve used the pro-choice euphemism for years,  but politicians are  yanking reproductive rights out of our hands.

And now that the “Girls” series is over should I watch it on DVD? I do recommend Dunham’s memoir:  she is an extremely talented writer.

Emily Dickinson

2. Emily Dickinson fans:  we can now rent her room at the Emily Dickinson Museum for $100 an hour!  I’m not quite sure I’d want to, but it is thrilling to know I can make a reservation if I go to Amherst.  Harriet Staff at The Poetry Foundation writes,

At Jezebel, Anya Jaremko-Greenwold reports on a recent development at the Emily Dickinson Museum: visitors can now rent Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. The reservation costs $100 an hour, and yes, you must leave the door open, lest pervs “drop trou,” as Jaremko-Greenwold writes. But for more upstanding citizens, the rental affords a unique opportunity to write in the spot where Dickinson penned her much-revered verse. No word yet on how the notoriously reclusive author would feel about this; Jaremko-Greenwold explains, “By the time she reached forty, Dickinson hid from houseguests she had previously received, and attended to the outside world only in her garden and her verse.”

3. At the TLS, you can read a review of  The Collected Short Stories of Jean Rhys. (Penguin).   Guess what? I just found an old copy at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale!

Gwendoline Riley writes,

Jean Rhys’s gift was singular, fugitive, volatile – as was she, which made for a fitful literary career. But it was a long and productive one, too. There are fifty-one stories here, bringing together three collections – The Left Bank (1927), Tigers Are Better-Looking (1968), and Sleep It Off, Lady (1976) – with five uncollected tales. This volume first appeared in the United States in 1987, but this is the first time it has been published in the UK.

6 thoughts on “Lena Dunham, Emily Dickinson, and Jean Rhys

  1. A general rule: the more “distasteful” a joke, the funnier it is.
    I can’t see any point to spending $100 to rent Emily Dickinson’s room except to “drop trou”.
    It raises some interesting prospects: if you rent the Earl of Rochester’s room are you obliged to “drop trou”? Is the Brownings’ room only rented to married couples with spaniels?


    • Poor Emily! In a very light mystery called “Emily Is Dead,” an obese docent “occupies” Emily Dickinson’s bedroom during an academic conference. Jealousy is rampant and there are murders!
      I hope everyone keeps their “trou” on at all these places, though I approve married couples with spaniels at the Brownings’.


  2. Though I’m entirely in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion, I do shy away from saying I’m “pro-abortion.” It’s an extremely serious step to take and not a piece of cake to experience, either physically, emotionally or mentally. I’ll stay with “pro-choice.”


    • I do understand how you feel, and I would only say what I really think–that I am in favor of abortion–here at my blog (my safe space?). I was excellent at birth control, and wish I could say the same of everyone, but I have known women who do lack the skills, money, or mental health to be good mothers. I would not make that choice for anyone else–and everyone must go with her own philosophy and beliefs–but abortion is a simple procedure and I do not think they should be discouraged. So I’m being radical and taking pro-choice to the next level!


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