book review: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava

The basics:  An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris is more about the objects than it is in Paris. In truth, Stephanie LaCava considers herself an outsider whether or not she's in Paris and traces her emotional history through objects.

My thoughts: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects is a unique memoir. It's told in vignettes of memories and objects. Drawings are paired with lengthy footnotes in the midst of the text. Initially, it was somewhat difficult to follow these dual narratives, and shifting my focus to the footnotes detracted from LaCava's fluid prose. Truthfully, I enjoyed LaCava's writing more than the footnotes. They drawings of the objects added a rich detail, but the footnotes, while often filled with fascinating trivia, didn't have the depth of LaCava's emotional memories.  About half-way through this slim volume, I took a different approach. I read each vignette in its entirety, then I went back and read each footnote in it. This strategy worked beautifully, and the objects themselves were more intriguing when taken together than when interspersed in the narrative.

The book is itself an object of curiosity. It's rare I recommend a print book over an e-text, but with An Extraordinary Theory of Objects, I would. It's a book to keep in view and observe your guests flipping through trying to figure out just what exactly it is.

The verdict: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects is at its most extraordinary when LaCava shares her personal journey rather than her thoroughly researched beloved objects. Her journey and introspection were haunting and honest. Many of the vignettes would work well as a standalone, but as a whole, this book is as beguiling as Stephanie LaCava herself.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 224 pages
Publication date: December 4, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy An Extraordinary Theory of Objects from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)

Want more? Check out the full tour schedule, visit Stephanie's website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or see what she's pinning on Pinterest.

 As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. A memoir told through objects? Now, that's interesting. I can't picture it in my head, but the idea appeals to me.

    1. It was really interesting, even though I enjoyed the memoir parts more than objects:-)

  2. This sounds very fun! I love memoirs, but I tend to be drawn to ones that play with the format of a memoir a little bit. This one sounds like it does just that.

    1. Kim, I'd be curious to hear your take on it, as you read many more memoirs than I do!

  3. This sounds like such a unique and unusual book! I'm glad you found a way to read it that allowed you to truly enjoy it.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring our review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  4. I liked her honesty too, even though I found it a bit self-centered. Of course, can an autobiography/memoir be anything but that? Probably not.


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