Was She Pretty? Paperback – 2 May 2013
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Whenever I come across something of Leanne Shapton's - an illustration in The New York Times, or the wooden books she makes - I feel like I have found a hidden treasure (Amy Sedaris)
The accessibility of Shapton's work is obvious...she blooms not only as an illustrator, but as an author (Bookslut)
About the Author
Leanne Shapton is an artist, illustrator, and writer who was born in Toronto and lives in New York. She has contributed to The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, Jane, Seventeen, Saturday Night, and Maclean's, among other publications. She is one of the founders of J&L Books, a non-profit publishing company specializing in new art and writing. She is the author of Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this brilliant gem of a book, artist/writer Leanne Shapton weaves together a voyeuristic tale of love and life through epigrammatic vignettes and sleek line drawings. Entire relationships are encapsulated in a few, stingingly perfect lines: "Colleen was Walter's ex-girlfriend from med school. She loved to dance with men at weddings." Pricking our insecurities, Shapton introduces us to Kim, whose ex "kept a drawerful of love letters in a kitchen drawer . . . She would stare at it while she cooked." And Ben's ex, "a physiotherapist for the U.S. men's and women's Olympic swim teams. She wore small white shorts year-round."
Fascinated by her own jealousy, Shapton interviewed acquaintances about their anxieties and peccadilloes, and the result is a book of surpassing originality: one of those unusual books that comes along to delight us all, like An Exaltation of Larks or Love, Loss, and What I Wore or Griffin and Sabine. Was She Pretty? can also share the shelf with the work of the legendary William Steig, whose early, psychologically revealing work inspired Shapton. An unflinching observer of human behavior, she invites us to peer into the hearts and minds of her characters--while reminding us that we shouldn't be surprised if we see ourselves staring right back.
I'm glad I did. It's a brief dash through the lives of people linked by their ex boyfriends and/or girlfriends, with a short paragraph/couple of lines about the relationship, followed by an ink sketch of the subject on the following page. The lines are witty and clever, poignant and sad, and though short, really capture the essence of the whole relationship Shapton describes. The ink drawings work so much better reproduced in paperback than the Swimming Studies artwork and there is something much more confident and assured about the figures, that really complements the text. I loved this and have actually read it twice since receiving it earlier in the week. This is not as impressive as it sounds, given that it is a terribly short read and took me less than an hour each time.
My only grumble is the price. At £10 for a slight paperback I would have hesitated hugely to buy this book rather than receive it as a review copy. It would make a good gift for someone, but it wouldn't be something I would purchase for myself at this price.
Was She Pretty? on the face of it is a very simple thing: a book where each set of facing pages details one person's annoying ex - or later on, an annoying new partner - in a very sparse few sentences / single sentence. Each page has a different character. Each 'ex' is summed up in the two line way that allows all that is hateful and enviable about the person to be freighted in one tidy container (I remember one new girlfriend of a boyfriend of mine 'could speak seven languages' and that's all you needed to know to find her really annoying).
Like Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, which I reviewed a couple of years ago and absolutely adored, "Was She Pretty?" plays with our assumptions about story and about fiction and non-fiction. It's heavily illustrated, though in a totally different manner than Important Artifacts - with Shapton's own line paintings of the characters she discusses. I just loved the format.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this. Each page illustated by a simple, often quirky line drawing. It took less than an hour to read and was absolutely delightfulPublished on 3 April 2014 by Rachel Green (author)
According to the quotation on the back cover, this book is a 'a dreamy exploration of relationships and jealousy...pithy and deadpan...it's no self-help book'. Read morePublished on 11 Jan. 2014 by Charlotte
A quietly beautiful little book that dances with, and exposes the green-eyed monster that lives inside us all. Read morePublished on 7 Jan. 2014 by Apollo 11
A very quick illustrated read about jealousy and other feelings of insecurity, competition, resentment, interest etc. that are quite common to have towards a partner's ex(es). Read morePublished on 30 Dec. 2013 by Amazon Customer
I'm going to be honest. I'm not sure I understood this book. A super fast read as you a few words on a page along with pictures but even so I didn't get it.Published on 28 Dec. 2013 by Kirsty at the Overflowing Library
I never thought that so few words could say so much.
When I read this it was insane to think that entire relationships were passing by in less than 20 words. Read more
I don't know quite what I expected with this book but I was pleasantly surprised. Its really lovely and has a hand draw sketches throughout. Read morePublished on 18 Nov. 2013 by Jay Rainbow
There are probably more words in the blurb that intrigued me into reviewing this book that the book itself contains. it takes about 10 minutes to get through. Read morePublished on 4 Nov. 2013 by Gentoo
NOT TOO BIG
You can read it in one sitting in about 40 minutes.
IS IT ANY GOOD
Well, it's not the worst book I've come... Read more
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