Synopses & Reviews
A haunting and moving collection of original narratives that reveals an expatriate's coming-of-age in Paris and the magic she finds in ordinary objects
An awkward, curious girl growing up in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava finds solace and security in strange yet beautiful objects.
When her father's mysterious job transports her and her family to the quaint Parisian suburb of Le Vésinet, everything changes for the young American. Stephanie sets out to explore her new surroundings and to make friends at her unconventional international school, but her curiosity soon gives way to feelings of anxiety and a deep depression.
In her darkest moments, Stephanie learns to filter the world through her peculiar lens, discovering the uncommon, uncelebrated beauty in what she finds. Encouraged by her father through trips to museums and scavenger hunts at antique shows, she traces an interconnected web of narratives of long-ago outsiders, and of objects historical and natural, that ultimately help her survive.
A series of illustrated essays that unfolds in cinematic fashion, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects offers a universal lesson—to harness the power of creativity to cope with loneliness, sadness, and disappointment to find wonder in the uncertainty of the future.
"Fashion writer Lavaca's childhood and teenage years were strange and confounding. The author's family moved from New York to a Parisian suburb in 1993 when she was 12; the next year she suffered a breakdown. Always considered a bit strange as a child, she found solace and a sense of order in collecting objects. She had a passion for ancient mythologies: 'I was obsessed with cabinets of curiosities, historical efforts to catalog and control nature's oddities,' Lacava writes. As an adult Lacava began looking back over her life 'through a narrative illuminated with objects and their respective stories.' As the author began researching her objects, she discovered unlikely links between them and 'certain people who reappeared throughout the stories' of such objects as a skeleton key found in the backyard of her new home in France; a fiery antique opal necklace found on the sidewalk following a jaunt to a neighborhood sweet shop; a CD containing Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'; and the camera she always carried on her journeys around France. 'For me, it is my story of conquering another world, a place where in order to survive I needed to seek out wonder,' Lacava explains. In the end, this is an unusual journey through one girl's material and sometimes painful interior world." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This captivating, wonderfully strange little book is like no other Ive ever read. Stephanie LaCava has created something original and true, at once emotionally resonant and intellectually challenging. A sheer delight.” Dani Shapiro, author of < i=""> Devotion <> and < i=""> Slow Motion <>
“What cleverly fills the honeycomb of LaCavas own story is a compassionate, evocative biography of seemingly aberrant things and a collection of historical anecdotes that most readers would never otherwise learn, let alone find gathered all together in one small (but not diminishing), deliberate, and careful book.” Booklist
“A series of wistfully illustrated essays. . . . A strange and lovely journey.” Flavorwire
“Its brilliance lies in the depth in plumbs. . . . Stephanie LaCava, along with the lovely illustrations throughout the book, shows us just how extraordinary these odd things are.” < i=""> Matchbook Magazine <>
“Truly a lovely book in every sense.” Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit Blog"
“With help from Matthew Nelsons elegant drawings, the worldly LaCava impresses by unearthing hidden treasures from a painful youth.” < i=""> Interview Magazine <>
It's Girl Interrupted meets Miranda July—with a touch of Joan Didion—in this captivating collection of original essays revolving around a young American girl's coming of age in Paris. As an adolescent in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava found an unconventional way to deal with her social awkwardness and feelings of uncertainty about the future by taking solace from the strange and beautiful objects she came across in her daily life. Filled with beautiful illustrations and providing a retrospective of nineties fashion and culture, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris is sure to be a collector's item for Francophiles or anyone who has ever found security in the strangest of places.
About the Author
Stephanie LaCava is a writer working in New York and Paris. Raised in France, she attended Colgate University. Her work has appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Vogue, and other print and online publications, including the Paris Review and Tin House. She posts striking photographs and words daily on her Web site, which she refers to as a phantom cabinet of curiosities.