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Was She Pretty? Paperback – 2 May 2013

3.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2 May 2013
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Particular Books (2 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846144973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846144974
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 749,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review is taken from the US Amazon site, as none are on the UK one. Hope it helps others.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not what I expected. My fault for purchasing on a whim after reading a blog post about it, and not researching properly. As an avid reader, I expect a good few hours of escapism in my books - this is simply an adult picture book. It took me about 5 minutes to 'read'. Great if you like this sort of thing, but not for me. At all.
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved Leanne Shapton's book: 'Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris'. It remains one of my favourite books, quirky, fresh, original and a little bit heartbreaking it is a book I have also bought time and time again as gifts for people I love. Her follow up; 'Swimming Studies' was less impressive, comprising part memoir of her time on the Canadian Swim team, part philosophy of swimming and some not terribly well reproduced artwork. It didn't really hang together as either a book or an artwork for me. It seemed rather haphazard and ultimately not terribly engaging. I really wasn't sure if I would like 'Was She Pretty' and then I heard a reviewer talking about it on a Radio 2 arts programme and decided I would.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this because I had enjoyed the author's graphic novel about the break-up of a relationship, but this is just too slight. Some charmingly fey cartoons, all about people's exes. For the time it takes to read the book it is quite enjoyable, but unfortunately, since that time is less than half an hour, it does not really seem like value for money.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't know why I feel allowed to call author Leanne Shapton by her first name - I guess perhaps the highly personal nature of her work. Though it clearly has fictional elements - and is by no means 'tell-all' - "Was She Pretty?" asks a series of questions that seem to comment on the way we think about relationships now, so acutely, that I wish she WAS a friend of mine...

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.
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