Was She Pretty?

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 31, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 198 pages


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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bearette24 - LibraryThing

Really interesting and creative book, based on real stories about people's exes, and illustrated by the author. I also liked the Kierkegaard quote at the beginning. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - helpfulsnowman - LibraryThing

What a loaded question. If there's one thing to take away from this book, it's that you should never ask this one. Was she pretty? Of course she was. The book is a series of very short bios, usually ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Leanne Shapton is an art director, illustrator, artist, and publisher based in New York. She has contributed work to The New York Times, Harper's, The New Yorker, GQ, Jane, Flaunt, and Seventeen, among others. She runs J&L Books with the photographer Jason Fulford.

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