In every relationship there are more than just two players, there are the specters looming in the background – the ghosts of past partners. This is the topic explored by Leanne Shapton in her debut Was She Pretty? This slender volume invites readers to explore the truths of modern love, their darkest fears and secret anxieties through her line drawings and prose.
Tracing a group of interconnected friends, the narrator outlines each ex with unemotional prose, capturing entire relationships in single lines: “Martin had never mentioned his hauntingly beautiful ex-girlfriend Carwai to Heidi.” Shapton’s spare prose leaves room for the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks based on their own experiences and emotional reaction. Don’t be surprised if she manages to conjure up ghosts from your own past.
The sparse narrative makes for a quick read but Shapton’s novel remains with the reader. She appears to suggest that jealousy refines a relationship, enhancing it – if the relationship survives. Our partners’ exes haunt us while at the same time we ourselves are exes. Was She Pretty? explores this engaging dichotomy, asking: what is it about exes that creates this love/hate relationship? While she offers no answers, the journey into one’s own psyche is a fascinating one.
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: November 7, 2006
tags: books book reviews Leanne Shapton relationships