Journalist Carlene Bauer reminisces upon her stumbling, skeptical attempts at religion and relationships in her book Not That Kind of Girl: A Memoir.
Carlene Bauer’s family was slightly more religious than most, and she and her sister were educated at Christian schools up until they reached high school. She clung to religion throughout college, experimenting with new faiths at a time when her peers were experimenting with drugs and sex. But even as a child, she nursed a nagging suspicion that being religious didn’t jibe with her intellectual ambitions, writing that she and her sister would always be “too good to be truly depraved and too worldly to keep away from the sinners.”
Her growing skepticism, which she refers to as a “radio cloud of static,” led her to shrug off organized religion in part at college and for good after 9/11. Bauer also documents her struggle to find challenging work and to create a full life in New York while engaging in fumbling attempts to connect with men.
Bauer is a talented journalist who has written colorful profiles and thought-provoking pieces for The New York Times, Salon.com, and others. But her debut memoir is yet another addition to the overstuffed “young woman comes to New York to find herself” canon. Not That Kind of Girl chugs along at a decent clip, and Bauer punctuates her prose with some witty turns of phrase and the occasional arresting image. But rather than a meditation on Bauer’s complicated relationship with God, her book comes across as an extended, frequently pretentious navel gaze.