REVIEWS

“An Extraordinary Theory of Objects is a peculiar stylistic mash-up by a young writer with prodigious potential. Part memoir, part illustrated narrative, part digressive exposition, it tugs the reader’s attention first one way, then the other, an experience that must be somewhat akin to living with the inward focus of the author’s own restless mind.”

—THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF BOOKS

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“The book is series of intertwined episodes.  Each essay shimmers along until the little asterisk signals a tangential explanation.  The footnotes sometimes last for three pages, dwarfing the “actual” text.  But this is the charm, and indeed, the strength of this memoir.  As the reader, we are given insight into how Lacava’s nonlinear thinking works.

Stephanie’s writing is unflinching.  She is brutally honest about her self and her familial disappointments, but this is not a self-indulgent pity party.  This is insightful writing at its best — and it’s an extremely enjoyable read.”

A CINEASTE’S COLLECTION

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“Displaced as a young teen to Paris for her father’s job, LaCava collected peculiar objects for therapeutic comfort from the unhappiness she found there. If you take her at her word, her curious little book is based on her strangeness and odd habits, and she is exorcisisng any remaining demons by creating a written record of that difficult time. Interrupting the narrative — and her interruptions sometimes run half a page in length, with her clear intention to do so made obvious — are researched footnotes for the favorite previous objects that the author has encountered, outlining their history and lore: a kaleidoscope, a glass eyeball, a mushroom picked during a late-night walk. LaCava’s descriptions are well matched by Matthew Nelson’s delicate line drawings . In the end, what cleverly fills the honeycomb of LaCava’s own story — one that feels more special than upsetting for its strangeness — is a compossionate, 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 REVIEW

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“Precocious children frequently find a way of growing up to be good tellers of their own stories. But this book is different because its power lies not so much in the odd childhood details it gives but in the emotional depth that it shares. The chronology surprised me but I most enjoyed it when it made me feel lost. The book is beautifully bound and features original illustrations by Matthew Nelson that only add to it’s overall delicate aura.”

THE MIGRANT BOOKCLUB

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“Writer Stephanie LaCava always had fantastical yearnings, but her collection of essays An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris is an untidy fairytale of self sabotaged romance. A teenage New Yorker’s angst over isolation in the Parisian burbs is joined by manic, encyclopedic footnotes on childhood memories and mementos — from a sarcophagus shaped pencil case (one of a handful of items deemed necessary for her trip overseas) to My So-Called Life. Tangenital trinkets allow an escape from the author’s bouts of anorexia and depression, and amount to an anecdotal history that forgives the flaws, setbacks, and broken hearts on life’s surface. With help from Matthew Nelson’s elegant drawings, the worldly LaCava impresses by unearthing hidden treasures from a painful youth.”

INTERVIEW MAGAZINE

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“LaCava’s memoir details her experiences in France as an adolescent in carefully wrought snapshots that intertwine crushes, nature, history and anxiety. LaCava’s family moved from the U.S. to France when she was 13, adding a layer of alienation to an already difficult age. It’s a sensitive young woman’s path through a frightening world, made comprehensible by the things she can hold in her hand.”

L.A. TIMES