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Lena Dunham Takes Aim at Critics; Sells Out New Book in Under an Hour

By Joanna Robinson

The last time Lena Dunham published a book she found herself in the eye of an overblown controversy that resulted in a self-described Twitter "rage spiral" and subsequent apology from the author. The critiques that she glorified sexual abuse and a brief legal tussle from someone who mistakenly thought "Not That Kind of Girl" was about him were surely difficult, but all that controversy was actually quite good for book sales and Dunham seems willing to challenge her critics with a surprise new book: "Is It Evil Not to Be Sure?"

This time, the book is for an unassailably good cause.

Dunham seems to know that no matter what she does artistically (and this has been the case since "Tiny Furniture" first debuted at SXSW in 2010), someone will have a problem with it. Her new book is based on personal stories lifted from journals she kept between 2005 and 2006. And this tongue-in-cheek offer of “pleasure/horror” seems to call out her critics.

The book promises to be an exercise in just the kind of vulnerable navel-gazing that delights Dunham's fans and enrages her critics. Dunham describes the version of her 19-year-old self in the journals as "a woefully misguided girl desperate to be embraced by even the least exemplary specimens of young American malehood," but says she's also proud of "how carefully I had recorded that period of time, my younger self's commitment to capturing the kinds of hyper-internal formative moments so often lost to adulthood. I have always believed that women chronicling their own lives, even (or especially) at their most mundane, is a radical act."

The book will benefit Girls Write Now, a mentoring program aimed at helping young girls. Another criticism lobbed at Dunham was tied to the amount of money — $3.7 million — she received from her "Not That Kind of Girl" book deal. Dunham dodges that (frankly unfair) bullet by making this volume a fundraiser.

Dunham cleverly gave the book a signed, limited-edition print run and sold out all 2,000 copies in under an hour on Lenny Letter's online store. But the book will be more widely available as an e-book on a number of different sites. 

With only one more season of her landmark series "Girls" left to go, Dunham will be continuing her efforts to embolden young women in new ways. This book doesn't seem like a bad place to start. 

Watch Dunham's exclusive MAKERS story in the video above.

More From Vanity Fair:
• Lena Dunham Explains Feminism
• Lena Dunham on How to Humorously Confront Gender Bias
• How Amy Schumer Negotiated a Multi-Million-Dollar Raise
• Marvel Keeps Promising a Black Widow Movie

Photo Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images