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Was She Pretty? Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 31, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Nov.)
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; 1st edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299262
  • ASIN: B005M4ND9Y
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #711,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Hinton VINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever been out with the person you're seeing when you run into someone who they know, but seem not to want to introduce you to? When you ask later, they'll say, "Oh, that was just a friend." In your mind you'll conjure up all manner of sordid details about their past association because, obviously, it was an ex. The jealousy will be overwhelming even though your partner came home with you and seems to have completely forgotten about the encounter.

That's what this book is like.

Was She Pretty? deals with the insecurities all current boy/girlfriends feel about the ones who came before them. Even if the relationship is long gone, there's something about the fact that the person you're with has a past that was separate from you that's somehow intriguing, and most of us are more than a little curious about who came first.

The book is an illustrated story with short vignettes about couples, their exes, and the details that remain to plague the current flame. One woman has an emergency at her boyfriend's house and finds (to both her horror and delight) a half-empty box of tampons. There is the man who will never let his current girlfriend answer the phone in his apartment, and you can just tell she thinks it's because of the ex. These tales are all short, a few lines at the most, but tell a story in just a few sentences. They are further illustrated with the author's drawings to develop the point.

I recently read, and enjoyed, Audrey Niffenegger's illustrated novel The Adventuress. It's the closest thing I could liken to Was She Pretty?, though even that comparison is a stretch. Was She Pretty? is an interesting book and will take no time at all to read. If you've been that guy or girl, the distrustful or openly curious one who can't just let the past be the past (and I think we all have at some point or another), it's worth it to see someone put those feelings into words and then illustrate them so candidly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jamie S. Rich on September 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Picked this up at the library on a whim when I spotted it nestled in the comic book section. It's a series of largely single page illustrations accompanied by short pieces of texts, usually a sentence or two and occasionally a full paragraph. The text and images are the links in the chain that connect us all together, the invisible ties we form in our relationships. Person A's current significant other once dated Person B who in turn dated Person C, and the impressions of those people linger either in carefully chosen, defining facts or objects they may have left behind. Shapton chooses either to draw those people or the pertinent objects in question, sometimes even a string of those items, flowing one to another. The drawing is a bit crude and unfinished looking, but there is a blunt swiftness to it that goes with the spartan nature of her prose. If you remember that song "88 Lines About 44 Women," WAS SHE PRETTY? is a bit like the literary equivalent of that, but instead of one man's celebration of his conquests, this is the anxiety and doubt he left in his wake. Though you'll read it in a blink, the effect is of having lived through all those break-ups, make-ups, and shake-ups, and you'll feel like you have to catch your breath.
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By SRooks on June 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is such a charming read. Perfect conversation starter to leave out on your coffee table, etc. Pretty little book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting and would actually make a good gift to a friend in my opinion. This isn't for you if you are looking for a novel.
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Format: Hardcover
The simplistic art will no doubt throw most people off. The art is not the sell here. It is the collection of brief, mostly one-line descriptions given the author by real people about former relationships. Taken in context, the book is an engaging - albeit quick - read. You wonder about what the exes of someone you've met might be like. This book takes that wonder a step further and treats the reader to a buffet of possibilities.

Probably too short for many, but a nice jaunt through a prickly subject.
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