The Little Things

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. Tangential 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.