Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: "An Extraordinary Theory of Objects" by Stephanie LaCava

Title: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris
Author: Stephanie LaCava
Publisher: Harper
Date Published: December 4, 2012
Pages: 224

How I Heard About It: Review copy kindly provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

Two Sentence Summary: A young girl moves to France with her family where she feels depressed and/or lonely.  I don't even need the second sentence.

author Stephanie LaCava [[via]]
Things I Think: When this book arrived in my mailbox, I found myself already "pulling for it."  It's beautifully made, decorously illustrated, and the title holds so much promise.  After doing some background research on the author (a fashion writer and Vogue journalist), I held my breath hoping she would shock me with unexpected literary prowess.

Alas, this did not come to pass. A total "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" narrative, LaCava's anecdotes completely lack poetry, depth.  Someone picking up their backpack and then setting it back down again is described in abrasive detail, overshadowing any sort of emotional content; the "intense depression" that the narrator tells us she experienced reads like typical growing pains. In fact, any real meat that might have made LaCava's experience at all unique is completely missing.

Marc Jacobs? What? [[via]]
One of the stylistic choices (hearkening to the title) arbitrarily footnotes objects mentioned in the text, pumping up the pages with random facts that often have little or no relevance to the plot, to the reader, to anything.  LaCava sees a beetle? Enter random footnote with beetle facts. LaCava takes a picture? Enter massive footnote with camera facts. The only purpose well-served by the footnotes is to add length to an otherwise sparse manuscript.

Plot to footnote ratio seems a, no? [[via]]
Disappointingly, the book was all flash and no substance, a disjunction made all the more glaring by a title that sets the stakes so very high.