An Extraordinary Theory of Objects
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An Extraordinary Theory of Objects : A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris

3.13 (740 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

An awkward, curious girl growing up in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava finds solace and security in strange and beautiful objects. When her father's mysterious job transports her and her family to the Parisian suburb of Le Vesinet, the young American embarks on a life of discovery. Tasting the enchantments of Paris, she makes friends with her peers at a wildly unconventional international school and faces terrorism. But Stephanie's wonder gives way to anxiety and a deep depression brought on by a series of circumstances. Through her darkest moments, Stephanie continues to filter the world through her peculiar lens, discovering the strange beauty surrounding her. The grotesque (beetles and catacombs), the natural (mushrooms and lilies of the valley) the cultural (Nirvana and other nineties touchstones) and the historical (Nancy Cunard, Jean Seberg), all become unique talismans. Encouraged by her father through trips to museums and scavenger hunts in antique shows, she traces an interconnected web of stories of past outsiders, historical and natural objects, and her present predicament that ultimately helps her survive when she feels she's losing control.
A series of essays that unfold in cinematic fashion, An "Extraordinary Theory of Objects" moves from past to present as Stephanie revisits France seeking to understand and make peace with her childhood. Her journey reveals the magic of seemingly ordinary objects to distract us from our lives, construct order in an unpredictable world, and reveal the power of stories to shape and reflect who we are.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 132.08 x 182.88 x 22.86mm | 272.15g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Harper
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0061963895
  • 9780061963896
  • 168,344

Back cover copy

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 Vesinet, 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.
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Review quote

"This captivating, wonderfully strange little book is like no other I've ever read. Stephanie LaCava has created something original and true, at once emotionally resonant and intellectually challenging. A sheer delight." -- Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Slow Motion "What cleverly fills the honeycomb of LaCava's 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." -- Matchbook Magazine "Truly a lovely book in every sense." -- Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit Blog" "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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About Stephanie Lacava

Stephanie LaCava is a writer working in New York and Paris. 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.
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Rating details

740 ratings
3.13 out of 5 stars
5 13% (96)
4 25% (184)
3 33% (246)
2 21% (154)
1 8% (60)
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