‘The Word Pretty’ Is So Smart, It Hurts

My review of Elisa Gabbert’s collection of essays “The Word Pretty” for Chicago Review of Books.

Chicago Review of Books

In “On The Pleasures of Front Matter,” an essay in her new collection, The Word Pretty, Elisa Gabbert discusses a heated debate she inadvertently sparked on Twitter after posting the question “Is there an epigraph that you think of as absolutely necessary?” She writes that “[a] number of people responded in defense of the epigraph… though I hadn’t meant to imply that an epigraph shouldn’t be there if it isn’t necessary.”

Along similar lines, in the essay “Title TK,” Gabbert argues that book titles “make the book better, by telling you how to think of it.  Like a detail of a painting, they enlarge what’s important.” These quotes jumped out at me because of the way the title of this bookfulfills both functions, highlighting Gabbert’s priorities in a fundamental way, while giving you a sense of what she intends to come back to again and again throughout The…

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