- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - A year ago, not many people had heard of Lena Dunham.

This year, in a sign of her stunningly swift path to major fame, the young creator and star of HBO’s “Girls” was one of the top draws of the weekend’s New Yorker Festival, the annual gathering where fans of the magazine flock to hear their favorite authors, actors, directors, artists, and politicians interviewed, of course, by their favorite New Yorker writers.

Dunham, 26, whose appearance sold out in the first 20 minutes that tickets went on sale this year, was interviewed by New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum on Sunday, just as word of her seven-figure book deal was emerging, an essay collection to be published by Random House.

The actress also was nominated for multiple Emmys last month. She didn’t win, but she did get a hug from comedian Louis C.K. at the ceremony, and she revealed in an awestruck voice Sunday that he’d said to her: “What you are doing is important.”

“I dressed as you for Halloween!” she replied, according to Dunham’s account. “You’re too much,” he shot back.

Dunham’s every word, it seemed, was greeted with admiring laughter. Among her observations:

ON FANS: “I go to places and people talk to me. They’re a great cross-section. I have three different rabbis in contact with me.”

ON OLD BOYFRIENDS THINKING THEY’RE IN HER SHOW: “It’s shocking how many guys would like to take credit for the (jerks, but a stronger word) I write!”

ON CRITICISM OF HER AND HER SHOW: “I’ve been in therapy since I was seven _ I thought I had cornered the market on self-criticality.”

ON ATTENTION PAID TO HER RECENT OUTING IN SHORT SHORTS: “Get used to it, `cause I’m gonna live `til 105 and I’m gonna show my thighs every day!”

ON DRIVING: “I don’t drive. It’s not going to happen. Some people are not meant to be mothers, and some people are not meant to drive.”

As always, New Yorker lovers came from near and far to partake in the three-day festival, held at venues around town. The festival said it had ticket buyers this year in 45 states and 22 countries outside the U.S.

This being an election year, there was a healthy share of politics, including a panel on the women’s vote that began with the promise it would be livelier than last week’s debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

“I don’t think anyone has altitude sickness here,” quipped moderator Dorothy Wickenden, a reference to Obama’s widely perceived listlessness in Denver.

The conversation got testy, though, on issues like abortion and contraception and their role in the election.

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