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Was She Pretty?

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Was She Pretty? Cover

ISBN13: 9780374299262
ISBN10: 0374299269
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Illustrator Leanne Shapton's debut reads like a graphic-novel-cum-children's-book: each spread includes one or more scratchy, b&w line drawings plus short, facing-page, poetryesque texts. Its content, though, leans much more toward Sex In the City than Shel Silverstein, exploring conflicting feelings aroused in women by their boyfriends' ex-lovers. It's narrated (and drawn) by a sharp but weary onlooker who is very intimate with all the principles, who seem to form a loose circle of friends. A picture depicting 'one of the women Len used to know' shows a dour, hot, tight-sweater-wearing woman who is summed-up with deadpan wit: in one sentence, she's 'an opinionated academic,' in the next, it's revealed, with barely concealed jealousy, that 'She wore braces and they looked fantastic.' Shapton also captures a complex brew of nostalgia, lingering attachment, relief, rage and intoxication harbored by the men: they keep letters, hairclips, phone numbers and are occasionally also honest with themselves. In a serial description of Margaret's adventures reading her boyfriend Scott's journals, which deatail his past relationships, 'Scott described seeing Diane on the subway with another man, and feeling jealous, but sorry for the man.' Diane looks very mean, and the book is pitch perfect from start to finish." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Illustrator Leanne Shapton's debut reads like a graphic-novel-cum-children's-book: each spread includes one or more scratchy, b&w line drawings plus short, facing-page, poetryesque texts. Its content, though, leans much more toward Sex In the City than Shel Silverstein, exploring conflicting feelings aroused in women by their boyfriends' ex-lovers. It's narrated (and drawn) by a sharp but weary onlooker who is very intimate with all the principles, who seem to form a loose circle of friends. A picture depicting 'one of the women Len used to know' shows a dour, hot, tight-sweater-wearing woman who is summed-up with deadpan wit: in one sentence, she's 'an opinionated academic,' in the next, it's revealed, with barely concealed jealousy, that 'She wore braces and they looked fantastic.' Shapton also captures a complex brew of nostalgia, lingering attachment, relief, rage and intoxication harbored by the men: they keep letters, hairclips, phone numbers — and are occasionally also honest with themselves. In a serial description of Margaret's adventures reading her boyfriend Scott's journals, which deatail his past relationships, 'Scott described seeing Diane on the subway with another man, and feeling jealous, but sorry for the man.' Diane looks very mean, and the book is pitch perfect from start to finish." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Deceivingly simple, Leanne Shapton's Was She Pretty? pairs melancholy, broad-stroked portraits with stories about sundry men and their exes...in just a few sentences. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"[T]hese women, like all the exes, are summed up in only a few skeletal lines of words and ink and thus have no persona, no life....We are thus left with an imprecise, lugubrious portrait of modern single women, which soon becomes wearing..." Marisha Pessl, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[A] modest achievement. The drawings, while not virtuosic, are expressive; the language is correspondingly plain yet evocative. Permeated with fears and desires, Was She Pretty? effectively creates a dreamlike experience." Salon.com

Review:

"More bitter than sweet, more funny than sad, Was She Pretty? reads like a cross between a children's book and a collection of poems, with a ferocious Dorothy Parker twist." Daily Candy

Synopsis:

A SINGULAR EXPLORATION OF MODERN LOVE AND ALL ITS DEMONS, IN WORDS AND DRAWINGS

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.

About the Author

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

crowyhead, March 26, 2007 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is a fascinating little meditation on exes and insecurity. Each page has a few sentences or a brief paragraph about an ex ("Colleen was Walter’s ex-girlfriend from med school. She loved to dance with men at weddings") and a scratchy portrait on the facing page. Shapton's drawing style reminds me a bit of some of Dave McKean's drawings, mainly in the shape of the face and the way the limbs are posed, but not in a derivative way.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374299262
Author:
Shapton, Leanne
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Subject:
Non-Classifiable
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
October 2006
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Black-and-White Drawings Throughout
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.77 x 0.885 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Relationships

Was She Pretty? New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$23.00 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374299262 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Illustrator Leanne Shapton's debut reads like a graphic-novel-cum-children's-book: each spread includes one or more scratchy, b&w line drawings plus short, facing-page, poetryesque texts. Its content, though, leans much more toward Sex In the City than Shel Silverstein, exploring conflicting feelings aroused in women by their boyfriends' ex-lovers. It's narrated (and drawn) by a sharp but weary onlooker who is very intimate with all the principles, who seem to form a loose circle of friends. A picture depicting 'one of the women Len used to know' shows a dour, hot, tight-sweater-wearing woman who is summed-up with deadpan wit: in one sentence, she's 'an opinionated academic,' in the next, it's revealed, with barely concealed jealousy, that 'She wore braces and they looked fantastic.' Shapton also captures a complex brew of nostalgia, lingering attachment, relief, rage and intoxication harbored by the men: they keep letters, hairclips, phone numbers and are occasionally also honest with themselves. In a serial description of Margaret's adventures reading her boyfriend Scott's journals, which deatail his past relationships, 'Scott described seeing Diane on the subway with another man, and feeling jealous, but sorry for the man.' Diane looks very mean, and the book is pitch perfect from start to finish." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Illustrator Leanne Shapton's debut reads like a graphic-novel-cum-children's-book: each spread includes one or more scratchy, b&w line drawings plus short, facing-page, poetryesque texts. Its content, though, leans much more toward Sex In the City than Shel Silverstein, exploring conflicting feelings aroused in women by their boyfriends' ex-lovers. It's narrated (and drawn) by a sharp but weary onlooker who is very intimate with all the principles, who seem to form a loose circle of friends. A picture depicting 'one of the women Len used to know' shows a dour, hot, tight-sweater-wearing woman who is summed-up with deadpan wit: in one sentence, she's 'an opinionated academic,' in the next, it's revealed, with barely concealed jealousy, that 'She wore braces and they looked fantastic.' Shapton also captures a complex brew of nostalgia, lingering attachment, relief, rage and intoxication harbored by the men: they keep letters, hairclips, phone numbers — and are occasionally also honest with themselves. In a serial description of Margaret's adventures reading her boyfriend Scott's journals, which deatail his past relationships, 'Scott described seeing Diane on the subway with another man, and feeling jealous, but sorry for the man.' Diane looks very mean, and the book is pitch perfect from start to finish." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Deceivingly simple, Leanne Shapton's Was She Pretty? pairs melancholy, broad-stroked portraits with stories about sundry men and their exes...in just a few sentences. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "[T]hese women, like all the exes, are summed up in only a few skeletal lines of words and ink and thus have no persona, no life....We are thus left with an imprecise, lugubrious portrait of modern single women, which soon becomes wearing..."
"Review" by , "[A] modest achievement. The drawings, while not virtuosic, are expressive; the language is correspondingly plain yet evocative. Permeated with fears and desires, Was She Pretty? effectively creates a dreamlike experience."
"Review" by , "More bitter than sweet, more funny than sad, Was She Pretty? reads like a cross between a children's book and a collection of poems, with a ferocious Dorothy Parker twist."
"Synopsis" by ,
A SINGULAR EXPLORATION OF MODERN LOVE AND ALL ITS DEMONS, IN WORDS AND DRAWINGS

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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