Lena Dunham and Judy Blume may seem like unlikely gal pals, but both have spoken in the past about their admiration for each other’s work: Dunham grew up with Blume’s novels (and even used Summer Sisters as an inspiration for her HBO show Girls), while Blume is a vocal fan of Dunham’s show.
Naturally, the duo had to meet each other and have a chat stat — and The Believer has made it happen. The magazine brought the two together for their first meeting, during which they discussed everything from the books they read as children, Blume’s tendency to make up books for book reports, and, of all things, horses.
Here’s an excerpt of their conversation, which will be published in full by Believer in a limited edition, 80-page book:
LENA DUNHAM: As a kid, what was popular? What were the books people read at school? Was it the Bobbsey Twins and Boxcar Children?
JUDY BLUME: I never read the Bobbsey Twins or Boxcar Children, but—
My first favorite books were the ones in the Betsy-Tacy series. But they weren’t popular in school. I didn’t know anyone else who was reading them. I liked Nancy Drew, used my allowance to buy one every week at the Ritz Bookstore. In sixth grade I made up books to give book reports on.
You invented them?
You would report on a book that had never existed?
Were you ever caught?
Nope. I always got an A on those.
I just wasn’t interested in the kinds of books I thought I was meant to be reading. I wasn’t that interested in stories about prairie girls or horse stories. I never read a horse book in my life, but I thought that’s what my friends were reading and that’s what I should be reading—Dobbin does this and Dobbin does that.
That was the name of your series?
It was about a horse named Dobbin, yes. I made up the characters and the theme and I stood up in front of the class and I gave my report.
On the books you made up in your mind?
That’s a literary hoax, basically.
I had never heard of a literary hoax then. Still, I knew it wasn’t right. The thing is, I was reading. I was reading from the bookshelves at home, but how could I report on those books? I tell teachers now, when I tell this story, I say, “How about just once during the school year, give your students the chance to invent books? See what they come up with.”
Did you ever say in the book report that you didn’t like it—that it wasn’t good?
I don’t think so.
That would be a whole other meta-layer.
The book, Judy Blume and Lena Dunham in Conversation, will be available for purchase by Believer subscribers only.