I can’t say enough good things about Stephanie Lacava’s new memoir, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects. It’s bittersweet, whimsical, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and just the right size. The adorable little mint blue book entices its reader’s imagination from start to finish, pausing occasionally to proffer a playful little drawing accordingly. The story is written in an interruptive yet continuous narrative, suggesting an insight at the unusual cadence of the author’s scattered thoughts. As readers, we follow Lacava back in time through a highly visual account of her Nirvana-loving ’90s childhood after being uprooted from New York to France at the ripe age of 12 (in “outsider years” that’s one of the most awkward: the beginning of the end, if you will). The story takes us into Lacava’s most intimate memories, recounting most notably her constantly apparent obsession with the collecting of beautiful (and at times, strange) objects. It is in the reference of said objects that we receive the heart and soul of the book: Lacava’s footnotes. Each time an object of importance is introduced, a small asterisk signals the reader to skip down to the bottom of the page so that a carefully worded mini-history lesson on the origin of the object may be disclosed. Sometimes lasting halfway through a page, these frequent asides not only supply the memoir with its unique voice, they create for us the exact uneven, confused rhythm of thinking that the author recalls experiencing so vividly during each vignet, while simultaneously justifying Lacava’s fixation on collecting.
When we are actually submerged within the narrative itself, the reader is exposed to some of the most raw, exposing moments of Lacava’s life, revealing some pretty painful scenes, all of which are imperative to the understanding of her character and therefore, the intention of the book.
It’s safe to say that somewhere in the middle of this memoir, I fell in love with the story and its author. Whether it’s the fact that I can relate to becoming attached to small, seemingly “ordinary” objects (or treasures*, as I’ve always referred to them), or the incredibly not-boring, condensed history lesson subliminally provided that cultivates my adoration, I’m not sure. But what I do know is that its given me a whole new appreciation of the inanimate objects that surround me, and I highly recommend indulging yourself in this little hardcover slice of heaven.
all photos via my instagram and here.
*When I was young, I would often set up a small table of “treasures” for sale (treasures included old McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, particularly smooth or shiny rocks, handmade animals crafted out of various recycled goods, and the occasionally toy car swiped from my older brother’s collection). Most frequent customers: good old Mom ‘n’ Pop. Ps, I hope you like my attempt at Ms. Lacava’s infamous footnote style of writing. Cheeky, oui?