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Comics & Graphic Novels Literary

Was She Pretty?

by (author) Leanne Shapton

Drawn & Quarterly
Initial publish date
Feb 2016
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2006
    List Price

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A dreamy exploration of relationships and jealousy . . . pithy and deadpan . . . It's no self-help book." - Salon A dreamy exploration of relationships and jealousy . . . pithy and deadpan . . . It's no self-help book. - Salon
What's left when a relationship ends? Where does jealousy come from? Delicately and sensitively, Leanne Shapton ( Swimming Studies ) ruminates on ex-lovers, and our lovers' ex-lovers. A few expressive pencil lines outline a long-abandoned winter coat here, an ineffably alluring Mona Lisa smile there. Each double page describes the way all exes are captured: as impossible to live up to as a Polaroid taken at a flattering angle.

This new paperback edition of Was She Pretty? brings the reader deep into a circle of phantoms: its intimate liaisons, embarrassing secrets, and sardonic anecdotes. Shapton introduces the obsessives and the dilettantes, the poets and the actresses, the people with great hair and the people with idiosyncratic clothes. As funny as it is insightful, Was She Pretty? speaks to a central human concern: How do we compare? Elegantly drawn and perfectly narrated, the pages of Was She Pretty? are a testimonial to the power of observation and misapprehension.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Leanne Shapton, an illustrator, author, and publisher based in New York City, is a cofounder of J&L Books. She has been the art director of the National Post's Avenue page and Saturday Night magazine, and from 2008 to 2009 was also the art director for the New York Times Op-Ed page. Shapton is the author of six books: Toronto; Was She Pretty?; Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry; Native Trees of Canada; Swimming Studies, which won the 2013 NBCC Award for Autobiography; and Sunday Night Movies. She most recently coauthored Women in Clothes along with Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits.

Editorial Reviews

Shapton's Was She Pretty? explores that painful behavior that we just can't seem to quit with thoughtful sketches that cut right to the heart of how we love." - XO Jane

"Deceptively complex and uncommonly elegant, Was She Pretty? is a series of gorgeous line drawings, most of men and women. . . Together, these brief encounters with the other tell a story about the difficulty of accepting that those we love have loved before - and of recognizing the ugly truth that they may love again." - Jacob Brogan, Washington Post

"It is exactly as devastating as when it was originally published. In as little as three sentences, Shapton can tell us everything a current lover thinks they know about the former." - Haley Mlotek, National Post

"In just a handful of words or a flick of the pen, Shapton stabs you in the gut, bleeding out the pettiness that pulses below the surface of the skin typically hidden behind a thin membrane of decorum." - Fashion

". . . timeless, cosmopolitan art and elegant . . . prose" - Jonathon Sturgeon, Flavorwire

" Was She Pretty? is a great read if you want a voyeuristic tour of other people's exes, and it may even help you through your own jealousy." - Madeline Raynor, Bust

"Shapton quietly plumbs all the familiar trappings of the guilty fascinations we develop with those who came before." - Lauren Oyler, Broadly

Other titles by Leanne Shapton