A Naked Singularity – Papercuts.co

A Naked Singularity Tells The Story Of Casi, A Child Of Colombian Immigrants Who Lives In Brooklyn And Works In Manhattan As A Public Defender One Who Tellingly Has Never Lost A Trial Never In The Book, We Watch What Happens When His Sense Of Justice And Even His Sense Of Self Begin To Crack And How His World Then Slowly Devolves It S A Huge, Ambitious Novel Clearly In The Vein Of DeLillo, Foster Wallace, Pynchon, And Even Melville, And It S Told In A Distinct, Frequently Hilarious Voice, With A Striking Human Empathy At Its Center Its Panoramic Reach Takes Readers Through Crime And Courts, Immigrant Families And Urban Blight, Media Savagery And Media Satire, Scatology And Boxing, And Even A Breathless Heist Worthy Of Anycrime Novel If Infinite Jest Stuck A Pin In The Map Of Mid S Culture And Drew Our Trajectory From There, A Naked Singularity Does The Same For The Feeling Of Surfeit, Brokenness, And Exhaustion That Permeates Our Civic And Cultural Life Today In The Opening Sentence Of Gaddis A Frolic Of His Own, A Character Sneers, Justice You Get Justice In The Next World In This World, You Get The Law A Naked Singularity Reveals The Extent Of That Gap, And Lands Firmly On The Side Of Those Who Are Forever Getting The Law


10 thoughts on “A Naked Singularity

  1. says:

    Why did you want me to read that Because it s a story If you re unmoved or infuriated by the attempts of clever writers to baptize the strange as familiar and vice versa, or by the likes of Wallace and DeLillo and Co to turn human conversation into unrealistic, alternately funny serious philosophical discourse, then please, back away slowly with your hands directed at 11 05 or 1 55, whatever the case may be You have no use for this book Let me save you the trouble and the trouble of me having to encounter your impending, vote whoring, renegade posturing review about how you couldn t exceed than 1% to 13.8% of the book and how the emperor is oh so nude, and how the Big Bad Bullying Literati Cabal has forced you into such a sympathetic and against the grain cum populist position in the first place.Please.In this book, people are often engaged in what some would classify as dorm room bull sessions i.e late night, oft intoxicated, profoundly earnest and likewise often simultaneously cynically self aware of everything discussions about deep things like what happens when you die, ethical and epistemic quandaries, etc but set in times and in places where such things don t usually, realistically, take place and with a degree of wisdom and cogency that they don t usually possess outside of, say, a book like this, written by an earnestly cynically truth and happiness seeking writer with a philosophy degree and a knack for fiction who s well beyond his college days If this isn t for you, then, again, please just vanish from the premises with your ears muffled by your mitts and with an overdramatic grimace on your face a posture which you can know, in your heart of hearts, your similarly misguided fans would find extremely amusing and stirring of their faux populist faux victimized loins enough to click Like and wage a comment supportive battle on your behalf, I m sure.Please.The group of eccentric intellectual students that Casi sometimes hangs out with are the symbolic dorm room bull session and Casi and other analytic bound and eloquent and post collegiate characters are the representation of how those bull sessions don t really ever stop after college days are left behind to consume our dust, much as we like minded might sometimes urge them to be, as much as we can laugh off these things most of the time, and or permanently relegate them to the corridors of our minds that we label with safely distancing and dismissive terms like Bull Session or Clich Existential Angst and so on There are persistent issues like this that, frankly, demand serious consideration and urgency, whether we want them to or not it s not a matter of wanting But things like the work a day life beckon and then consume time and energy with gaping maws and ceaselessly groaning bellies, while pursuits of happiness necessitate a denial of these nagging lines of inquiry and existential angst that might leave us feeling hopeless, depressed unwilling to submit to the everyday bullshit of jobs and social pressure and the commonplace moment to moment perceptual settings and on top of all of that, we simply become exhausted by them, point after point, maybe just as consistently and often as they arise anew, as fresh wounds in the mind, stripped of cynical dismissal, and re seizing us as if for the first time, somehow We re going to be all right, he said No, I said But we re going to live The book also contains A smorgasbord of incisive social, political, cultural, religious, philosophical and even, though sometimes oh so relatively less adept, scientific insights extremely short list the moral failure of the War on Drugs and the perpetual cycles of poverty free will v determinism moral realism v moral nihilism the Theory of Everything w r t physics the expansion of the universe the death penalty the vast implications of technological evolution the adversarial and harmonious relationships between the humanities and the sciences both soft and hard alike and their attendant relationships as well the highs and lows of accumulating or possessing less information, facts, theories, intellectual know how, etc A grasp on the legal system that, to this non law school attending layman, seemed thoroughly researched and astoundingly well conveyed Mesmerizing, hyper real and or surreal, off kilter vignettes one involving a confessional booth reality TV show, for instance among many other instances Stunning dream sequences The ever so slightest eyelash brush with potential Romantic Love that hit me in the gut and tugged the heart strings quite possibly harder and meaningfully than any other depiction of fully consummated Romantic Love ever has A truly strange and dazzling heist, i.e the perfect crime strange and dazzling in both how the author expertly described and paced it and embedded it into the overall plot and in the way the characters devise and carry it out Swords Shockingly apt and poetically detailed symbolism involving boxing as in the sport where two men dance with and pummel each other Horrifying and comic collusions between commerce and politcs entertainment and civics that hit very close to home A massive scale NYC power outage in the Siberian dead of winter A heart pounding crime thriller cat n mouse narrative via various aforementioned litfic conventions woven into the overall tapestry the kind of knuckle whitening and drool inducing thing that TV shows like Breaking Bad and The Wire pull off addictively and consistently from cliff hanging episode to cliff hanging episode An array of initially seeming disparate narrative strands elegantly intersected through the unrelenting arc of Time s arrow, gradually intertwining and setting into one another with delectable clicks of well carved keys plunged into ornate locks Not to mention loads upon fucking loads of innovative prose of the habit forming sort that I could endlessly read when put to the use of describing just about anything from things such as riding the subway to work or a cold blooded murder as seen through a convenience store security camera or other immense tragedies, all the way across the spectrum to minutia like preparing empanadas or the undeniable highs and absurd woes of Television or the labeling of snack foods beverages And holy hell is it ever so often hilarious while never failing to take its eyes off its utmost dramatic and serious thematic and narrative layers, which is a confoundingly beautiful feat in itself And good fucking gracious, what a perfect ending____________________________________________ASIDE Somewhat Obligatory Inescapable Authorial Points of Reference, i.e Connections Made Within This Reviewer s Head While Reading This BookSomewhat obvious elements of hallmarks like Kafka s The Trial and Dostoevsky s Crime Punishment and Bros K, though these elements are so ingrained in literary tradition as to have not been thought of directly as being sourced by Franz and Fyodor even a once by De La Pava while writing Also present is the undeniable DFW style narrative tone, the encyclopedic brainiac meets casual deadpan verbosity, but so the first person journalism stuff rather than often omniscient third person fiction It does for boxing what Infinite Jest did for tennis and for behind the curtain probings of the legal system what the The Pale King did for the IRS The Wallace comparisons have been laid down and I d say this is the most Wallace y toned writing I ve ever read by someone not Wallace I don t really buy the Adam Levin or George Saunders comparisons at all , but, all that being said, I fully agree with my fellow Big Pomo Book Nerds that De La Pava maintains his own unique vision and doesn t come off as a rip off artist in the least He, like many writers now, has simply soaked up that infectious tone, that delicious marriage between the upper and lower brows, and luckily goes in many unique directions both stylistically and otherwise with it BOTTOM LINE SALES PITCH If you like or love David Foster Wallace, in either or both non fictional or fictional form, it s hard to imagine that you ll not like or love this book As tacky as that blunt assertion is, it s the BOTTOM LINE SALES PITCH so do with it what thou whilst ____________________________________________ The Naked Singularity was a real treat, to say the absolute goddamn least full of intelligence and beautifully paced suspense and wit and humor and stylistic and structural innovation and deep human drama and all of the other stuff a good, thick, brain and heart driven book should be full of Believe take a chance on the slowly developing and relatively minimal hype if you re into this kind of thing If not, back up there s nothing to see here Don t make me bust out my katana.


  2. says:

    Wow This book got reallyreally popular 1332 ratings 240 Reviews Back in my day it had barely scratched 100 starragings Self publishing may still be a necessary evil, but much important is maintaining institutions which can afford to maintain their literary and scholarly integrity Thank you University of Chicago Press.______________For those of us pessimistic about the possibilities remaining for the encyclopedic novel in this age of twitterdom, Sergio De La Pava s A Naked Singularity is evidence to the contrary His is a fantastically fun, smart, witty, verbose novel whose protagonist, like many of us, is caught between a resigned cynicism and a need to come through the screen of irony which would leave us the victim of incomprehensible systems than truly free, critical, human, and independent James Wood was onto something when he detected a new genre emerging out of the art of fictioning which he called hysterical realism If the hysteric is one who does not know what she desires, then the resultant realist novel will concern itself with tracing the passage of a protagonist through its immersion in opaque systems and unidentifiable desires through to a even if thwarted second na vet , a d tente with her lack of desire This, dear Mr Wood, is how it feels A Naked Singularity has everything readers of mega novels are looking for many pages, erudition, quirks, digressions, vignettes which leave one scratching one s head, technical arcana, humor, wit, pain, multiple forms of prose and a bit of bad poetry which is the novel in its very constitution , a failure to properly end, correlations, significant numbers, itself worn on its sleeve, clever and oh so obvious self reflexiveness, heart, lots and lots and lots of words, obsession, indulgence, lack of discipline, need of an editor, those 300 pages which if excised would have made for a tighter novel, and enough printing errors brought bought to keep us all happy It is excellent, entertaining, won t make one feel stupid nor cudgeled, and yet won t bore one with insipidity, although that s there, too.The story of A Naked Singularity s coming to be, its passage into self publication, the eventual emergence of reviews and notices on the internet, its finally publication by University of Chicago Press will follow this novel into its old age just as E MC2 will follow Einstein to the singularity The hype which has developed around it will also remain part of its eternal mystique Let me say that the hype is correct and is not hype, but an expression of the extreme pleasure its proper readers have experienced upon finding that there really is still someone out there writing the kind of book we love to read The comparisons which have been made to god like authors are justified, fully, but with a few caveats which I would like to discuss This is a fantastic book, and if you admire any of the authors with whom De La Pava has been compared, you will read this book in fewer than the seven days I allotted myself A Naked Singularity has been compared to Coover s The Public Burning, Gaddis JR, Pynchon s Gravity s Rainbow, Foster Wallace s Infinite Jest, Dostoevsky s Crime and Punishment, and of course that grandaddy of the encyclopedic, Melville s Moby Dick and of course The Wire and other police procedurals which Television has been so good at producing All true and all good reason for picking up A Naked Singularity The most salient influences, to my mind are J R and Infinite Jest The human voice has been rendered better than by Gaddis by but only possibly very few De La Pava has a love of dialogue characters exist largely to the extent that they speak But his characters speech is cleaned up, slicker, than the stuttering, broken, interrupted, failed attempts to express which makes Gaddis dialogue so much real than what we know to expect from dialogue in a novel De La Pava s dialogue is novelistic, his characters speak with editorial polish than the or less direct transcription one enjoys in J R To take one instance of unavoidable comparison with DFW, while DFW writes Tennis, De La Pava writes Boxing Here in capsule form we see that De La Pava is the weaker writer, not accomplishing with his sports metaphor the profundity and universality which DFW reaches with his writing on Tennis The Boxing material in A Naked Singularity is extremely well written, engaging, and apropos to the structure and plot of the book The themes developed through the Boxing passages mirror and echo the experiences, expectations, desires, and deadlocks of our protagonists, Casi _____ But for the most part the metaphor lies simply parallel with the main course of the Casi narrative On its surface we get the mere story of the rise and fall of Boxing forgotten legend Benitez In contrast, DFW s writing on Tennis is never merely a recounting of Tennis stars life stories, or mere descriptions of Tennis matches, but is always already a reflected analysis of what Tennis says about the rest of us Tennis, a particular human activity, is always only a means to see some larger, universal aspect of human experience, how Tennis reveals what it is like to be a fucking human being This moment of universalization, an urgent question for our post postmodern fiction is absent in A Naked Singularity It is not necessary for it to be present The writing is excellent as it stands This caveat about how A Naked Singularity stands in relation to those books to which it has been compared is only to say that with A Naked Singularity we do not have a profoundly new way of writing novels as was the case with the publication of books like Infinite Jest or Gravity s Rainbow or The Recongitions or Women and Men But we don t need it to do that A Naked Singularity is a welcome and urgently needed addition to this sparsely populated genre I like to call the encyclopedic novel or the mega novel.A few bits of wonderfulness one might expect Philosophy De La Pava has studied philosophy Lock on identity as memory Hume on causation Descartes method of doubt what can only be described as Hegel s dialectic of recognition in the form of making an impression on a blind date Peter Singer s ethical argument regarding proximity Plato s ring of Gyges atheists in foxholes the theodicy question ends and means morality Nietzsche s bermensch and Dostoevsky s Raskolnikov Popper s falsification thesis regarding the nature of scientific proof The inclusion of which all is well justified in relation to the plot and structure of the book, and all of which is accurately presented Except for Conley s overly optimistic eugenics claims regarding the Human Genome Project the philosophical material is not bullshit nor pseudo intellectual Although it does feel like midnight bullshit sessions held in college dormitories Lists No Menippean satire is complete without em But De La Pava does one better by raising Lists to the meta level, the metalist Stuff about perfection and greatness When everything is relative and all is subjective, dare we ask about perfection and greatness Just enough metafiction which comes in the form of an inflight film without sound, Mayor Toad s Video Vigilants, and, of course, reflections on what it was like to write A Naked Singularity A story about a burrito getting its own back in court Discourses on the importance of money You did know how important money is, didn t you A solution to the War on Drugs A nearly page long order for a cup of coffee The acronyms SERPENT in the Orchard and COCK A monkey Or was it a chimp Reese Rhesus Rhemus Whosits The next list A few nice lines we all love quotes out of context Regarding sex We re obsessed with what we ve ruined p137 Life is nasty, malevolent, toxic, evil, and brutish And you know the worst part The part that really sticks in my craw, whatever a craw is It s too short p407 Often the greatest art is inaccessible to all but a few p423 If reality is sometimes so intense and bizarre that it feels like bad, unpersuasive fiction, then this was a fiction so powerful it outrealized reality p438 Re A comedy in name only, neither divine nor vulgar A comedy in error, full of irony and self reference and signifying an empty nil p485 Why d you want me to read that Because it s a story p551.A final list Because I have gained so much from such like as the following list I would like to offer the following suggestions for those who enjoyed A Naked Singularity and you will and some of the titles dropped above This encyclopedic or mega novel genre, which I ve been harping on, feels like home to me and perhaps feels like home to you as well If it does, please consider the following recommendations The old timers Gargantua and PantagruelDon QuixoteThe Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, GentlemanMoby DickThe Anatomy of MelancholyThe HistoriesLucian of Samosata, or so one would suspect.The really, really important ones UlyssesThe RecognitionsGravity s RainbowWomen and MenInfinite JestDarconville s CatMiss MacIntosh, My DarlingReally, really good ones The Sot Weed FactorGiles Goat BoyLETTERSLaura Warholic Or the Sexual IntellectualThe TunnelJRA Frolic of His Own for legal satireMason and DixonAgainst the DayTake FiveThe Public BurningThe Gold Bug VariationsYou Bright and Risen AngelsThe Royal FamilyVollmann s Seven Dream seriesGilligan s Wake A NovelDaisy Buchanan s DaughterThe Lost ScrapbookMulligan StewStephenson s Baroque TrilogyLa MedusaOmega MinorEurope Central2666UnderworldThe Last SamuraiWhere Tigers Are at HomeWitzThe Instructions okay so I ve read all of the above now finally except the Lucian w And though I ve ceased to update the list feel free to run with it And THIRD, we attempt to address the anomalous nature of this list in the context of my Review of Vanessa Place s La Medusa, which discussion begins HERE There is further attempts to indicate the related situation within the context of the Shandian Spawn which can be found HERE.I am indebted to Steven Moore for the origin of this my list Those who enjoy this big, brainy genre should look into his The Novel An Alternate History volume 1 Beginnings to 1600 where you will find an unbelievable trove of all things novel ish Especial attention should go to p330 331, .every author of an innovative novel mixing literary forms and genres in an extravagant style is indebted to Rabelais, directly or indirectly Out of his codpiece came and follows a list of fun stuff that will make you drool from here to next Thursday You ask me to reproduce that LIST __________________Thanks to Joshua Nomen Mutatio we have received notice of the following profile of De La Pava from Garth Risk Hallberg in The Millions__________________In anticipation Sergio De La Pava brings linguistic energy and grim hilarity to this furious novel about the dysfunctional criminal justice system His novel evokes such maximalist masterpieces of the 1970s as Robert Coover s Public Burning and William Gaddis s J R he has Coover s rage and Gaddis s ear yet also grapples with current issues hot off the AP wire Socially engaged, formally inventive, and intellectually challenging, A Naked Singularity is a remarkable performance Steven Moore, author of The Novel An Alternative History


  3. says:

    I quit a little before halfway It didn t break me, I just lost interest The book is written the way one might actually expect a harried, sleep deprived, lacking in spare time lawyer like the protagonist and author to write, which I guess is a certain kind of authenticity, but not the kind of thing I want to read 678 pages of Rob BoxingphilosophyDaneblah blah whatever Nick What the hell does rant mean Peter GriffinIt s easy to take great writers for granted.The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of most novels is done in such a way that we hardly ever notice the true hard work that goes into crafting an effective story There is a type of subtlety at work in all stories that disguises the elements that influence the reader, which these elements often than not fly under our radar The power of unconscious forces almost always trumps the forces that we are conscious of and thus the really great books penetrate our psyches without our full awareness It is because of this that the greatest books take serious work to unpack the elements that push us this way and that.The factors at work are not always literary, thematic concerns either Tone, pacing, character, subtly of description are just some of the many tools that great writers use to craft excellent stories This is realm in which one hones his her writerly chops Without any thoughts to some bigger picture story being told, it all falls back on the basic skills of the medium As it is with a surrealist painter who must learn to draw geometrically perfect lines first, so must the writer learn and practice all the fundamentals of story telling that draw in the reader and create a believable world populated with individualized characters and crucial details about the reality that the story inhabits Anyone with a sharp, analytical mind can pluck out this or that philosophical conceit behind a novel And anyone with enough motivation can rehash this or that lofty conceit in the guise of a story and call it an interesting work of literary art But that s not what makes literature interesting, is it Think of all those editors pouring over manuscript after manuscript picking them apart at the level of story and characterization, with little concern about what the book has to say or this or that philosophical idea that it instantiates in its prose.If we are really honest with ourselves about our favorite books, no matter how high brow or lofty the enjoyment may be, there are many fundamental aspects of the book that play a crucial role in our enjoyment Even a writer like David Foster Wallace, no stranger to difficult books that drag readers through 1000 pages of prose, knows full well the importance of seducing the reader and especially when dealing with books of great length Now, the extreme end on this side of the spectrum may be the strict, pulp writers who limit themselves to genre, or perhaps better said, writers that leave little for the reader to chew on, little for them to think about There is nothing inherently wrong with this type of writing, but it is constrained by mere writerly technique and may not approach the profound pleasure that other loftier works indulge in deftly plotted plots and fully fleshed out characters only lay the foundation upon which interesting questions can be posed I m leaving the best selling writers like James Patterson, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King, etc out of this discussion as they fail even on this basic level, leaving the secret to their monumental success a complete mystery to me Without a foundation of solid writerly chops, we are often left with a compendium of lofty ideas without a basis in the basic pleasures of literature.I ve never quite pinned down what the word self indulgent means with regards to novels, but I would imagine when writers eschew these foundational writing techniques, the book takes on elements which some might characterize as self indulgent These techniques work because they invite the reader into the world, they force a writer to be hands off with the loftier work and allow for the reader to derive such loftier conceits for themselves Otherwise, the writer seems much concerned with extolling this or that philosophical idea rather than creating a reading experience open to both a reader s enjoyment and the subsequent ideas that s he can make for her himself And this does not always fall down the lines of accessibility or difficulty in a book I can think of several difficult books which still retain a strong sense of story and character which propel the story along Ulysses and Cloud Atlas immediately come to mind One side effect of foregoing fleshed out characters and an interesting plot may result in a book that is full of interesting ideas but without any good justification for why it has been all put into one story When the author lets his her own ideas take center stage, then these plot and character elements fall to the wayside The ideas that the author wants so desperately to convey comes across as a contrivance as opposed to anything that could be genuinely interesting to the reader.This is especially true when the reader is already intimately familiar with the majority of the ideas within the text When the characters have introspective reflections they are not particularly interesting when said reader has already given such questions a great deal of thought It is not enough to fill one s books with this or that musing or philosophical paradox because there is a lot to literature than that And when long winded conversations trail off on digression after digression, the reader has to wonder, what s the point of me reading any of this And perhaps some type of compendium of philosophical musings could make for interesting literature but not in most situations It might be interesting to read about all these different ideas if they weren t refracted forms of arguments that anyone can hear in an intro to philosophy course And if underneath all of these lofty concerns is a tired story, of say just as a random example the story of a public defender that becomes disillusioned by the judicial system, then there is not much keeping the reader hooked into the story itself This is especially true if any potential for an interesting story that could easily be pulled off in 300 pages is stuffed and clogged down by 378 extra pages that derail the pacing and make sure any moments that achieve some aesthetic pleasure are run into the ground by the incessant talking of its characters And these characters hardly engage it what could be called conversations because a conversation implies two different minds having an interaction that goes well beyond words, as their motivations and emotion inform the context of the conversations and are not mouth pieces for the author to extoll long digressions on philosophy This is especially tiresome if said reader has no real interest in just reading philosophy, and instead only finds it interesting when discussed and debated Said reader might become sick of pouring over page after page of random tidbits and ideas that don t coalesce in the slightest until having trudged through 600 long pages and small font Hearing any single voice drone on and on about their own ideas ad nauseam becomes tiresome very quickly.And on that note, this reader will turn this discussion over to the comment thread, where perhaps he can have his mind changed by the ever loyal goodreaders that have a passionate love for lesser known modern literature looking at you Josh.


  4. says:

    I remember back about a decade ago when a couple of the big self publishing companies were pushing their wares one of them used a line something like, James Joyce was self published They were trying to sell you on the idea that if you ve written a book, and none of those stodgy publishers are buying it it s possibly because it s a work of genius, like Joyce, and you should give us your money and we will produce a low quality looking trade paperback for you so that you can be recognized as the genius that you are I don t know how many books have been self published And I don t know how many novels have been self published in the last, say fifteen years It s a big number Gigantic A whole lot of crap has been let loose on the world that without self publishing would be forgotten manuscripts in desk drawers and files on hard drives destined for wherever it is that hard drives in computers go when you bring them to environmentally friendly places to get rid of your obsolete computers But then there are the exceptions There are the two books of Evan Dara, which came out of nowhere and is up there with some of the best stuff written in the past decade and a half or so or at least his first novel is, I haven t read the second one yet, but I have it on good authority that it s as good if not better than the first And then there is this book I don t know the exact publishing history of it Did Sergio De La Pava try to sell it to publishers I can t imagine the editors of somewhere like McSweeney s getting this and say, no, we ll pass I imagine although I could do some research, but fuck that that it was just self published It feels like the kind of book that the author knew was awesome and just decided to unleash it on the world himself, quietly I wish a few years ago he had found me someway, like he did some other people on goodreads and offered me up his book His book is what I secretly was hoping the Zweig book Swimming in the Sun would have been, especially when I got an email from the publisher saying that this is for fans of DFW and similar writers to him I was picturing the second coming of an Evan Dara like author I had high hopes They were dashed You should read my review, I know this is shameless self promotion, but it s sort of the fear I felt when I first saw this book on the shelf at work, and saw the pedigree it had Guess what though This won t be a surprise if you ve seen any of my ejaculations I made in status updates, but here it goes This book delivers Yep There is another great writer out there and another big book to fall in love with There is one person to shove in the face of any dimwit who pompously pontificates about the low quality of literature today, and how the only good writers are safely stored six feet underground and living with insects today Maybe there is some irony that this book has quietly shown up, re published by the University of Chicago, on bookshelves during the same month that Vintage fuck you Random House, seriously Fuck you Fine you bought the fucking trash that everyone wants to read right now, but did you have to publish it on your imprint that usually designates quality Philip Roth, Julian Barnes, Jean Paul Sartre, Cormac McCarthy, and 50 Shades of Grey Just fuck off re published, well, you know, that series of books Oh, in a just world this would be the book everyone was falling over themselves to read That is why I ve suspended my usual not recommending you read books I strongly like or love and I ve been actively pushing this book on just about anyone that will listen I don t know if you will love this book, you might not, maybe you ll feel lukewarm to it, but I do think it should be read, word needs to spread There is something a little bit exciting about this book, and I feel the urge to share that excitement with you This might not happen again for awhile But, Greg, is this really a five star book Or is this another of your books that the sheer idea of the book boosts up the actual rating at least one star level You might have gotten me there The first Part of the book is five star worthy It s amazing It s DFW level good The second third of the book is also very good, maybe not quite as consistently great, but it s really good And the third part is good but with some reservations In my opinion the book sort of runs out of steam during the last part, but not in a way that negates everything great that came before it There are some great scenes and dialogue in the last part, but there is a bit missing from the earlier parts of the book This shouldn t dissuade you from running out to a bookstore right now and picking up a copy of this and then immediately running back home and sitting down in the most comfortable place that you do your reading, maybe bring a beverage with you and dive right into the book If the forty pages or so that make up the first chapter don t leave you thinking something, holy shit I didn t realize my life was as incomplete as it was before reading this, how has this existed in the universe for four fucking years and I m only now just hearing about it, I might have to tweet about this new sense of wholeness I m feeling because I have now begun to read this If you don t feel something similar to this you should run back to the bookstore with your receipt and return the book and tell the cashier some lame excuse about getting home and finding out that your aunt just sent you a copy of this, and then use the store credit they reward you with you will not be one of the lucky ones to get the money put back on your card, or cash to buy 50 Shades of Grey and spend the extra few bucks that makes up the difference in price on some latte and sit in the bookstore cafe and show off how with it to the other customers That is what you should do.What is the book about A young public defender named Casi is on an impressive winning streak when it comes to going to trial There are details about what the NYC court system is like, especially at the low level where people use public defenders instead of being able to afford lawyers of their own There is The Wire worthy descriptions of the the game There are Gaddis like dialogues but not nearly as difficult I mean demanding as say JR , there is a heist and there is a history lesson about 1980 s era middle not Middle, but just somewhere between the real little guys and the real big guys middle weight average weight whose average boxing There is also some Television thrown in I kind of hated that he capitalized Television, it was one of the things that I imagined would have been changed by an editor if the book had been produced by a publisher, it kind of felt funny It felt like the kid who sat next to me in some philosophy class who ended all his papers with , because you know there is never a last word said on a subject, there is always to say It felt sort of like that, and that feeling is kind of embarrassing, even if you aren t the one committing the kind of juvenile display Maybe you can think of other writing ticks that fall into this kind of category Maybe some of the ways that I ramble, or the defensive posture I take by refusing to edit any of my reviews as if to say, you can t judge me for being a piss poor piece of shit writer because this shit aint even edited, motherfucker, as if my edited work would be any better, or maybe that I use too many fucking curse words, and I could just as easily say pick up a thesaurus and try to broaden my vocabulary and the richness of my reviews instead of saying dirty words so often Or maybe my tendency to diffuse any criticism by pointing out what I m doing wrong while I m doing it, an act I hate in other writers but which I have a feeling I m guilty of often then I imagine, i.e., not just in this instance I might come back to this review one day and add some substance, but really all you need to know is that this is going to be the next big book that cool kids will own but quite possibly not read, and that will be on everyone s goodread shelves, and it s probably best to jump on this bandwagon now, because you can t go back and be one of the few who learned of this while it was floating around in near oblivion, but you can still get in on this shit early and you know you ll think you ll cooler if you were reading this before it s a mandatory accessory on the L train.


  5. says:

    Let me begin by stating that A Naked Singularity is one of the best debut novels I ve read in a long time.Goodreads has turned into a great platform for discovering books both old and new accompanied by varied views and reviews and just around the time I was wondering as to what extent it is being recognized in India, I came across an article in one of our National daily about self publishing books and how presently crowd is the king in sealing the fate of many such books and Goodreads has become a standout brand for that crowd There is a gradual reversal of power equations and without any intermediaries publishers, editors,agents et al , the said power is being redistributed to the authors and readers, the eventual producers and consumers of text and therefore leads to the discovery of enshrouded talent Talking about one such talent is the author Sergio De La Pava, a name that might not ring a bell in many ears, and even if it does, the sound at the very least would be a bit distant for most of the people who haven t read him, but if one tries hard, the sound could not necessarily be life changing, but given a chance, can definitely proves to be a worthwhile experience, something similar to chancing upon a beautiful and pristine landscape that has always been there, but a kind of well kept secret confined to the knowledge of lucky few Casi, our protagonist, is a Public Defender who defends the guilty He is only 24 and throughout his practice, he has never once lost a case He takes us from the court hearings to his discussions with his colleagues and neighbors, from co planning a heist to executing it, from boxing to recognizing the Naked Singularities There are philosophical discourses ranging from Existence of God I know, I know Anyway, the argument is this God either exists or she doesn t I either believe in her, and alter my life accordingly, or I don t If I buy into God and it turns out she doesn t exist I m at most inconvenienced and maybe disappointed On the other hand, if I reject God and it turns out she does exist I could potentially be screwed As a result I decide to hedge my bets and believe in GodBirthdays A birthday is an odd thing despite being inherently senseless, I m referring to the way it looks you in the eye and demands retrospection whether you re willing or not.Perfection When you fail to achieve perfection you don t create disaster you achieve, at worst, flawed success.Human Genome Project Think about that for a minute Everyone will be attractive, intelligent, athletic.Racism, war on drugs,corruption in Law enforcement and well almost everything under the sun, but I must commend, that De La Pava s narration is highly engaging and consistent throughout The setting of the novel, the Criminal Justice system, is one of its strongest points and is masterfully carried out by De La Pava A Public Defender himself , who skillfully used his experience and knowledge in explaining the intricacies of the said system in a lucid manner It has the judicious mix of both usual and unusual or rather I say surreal elements to keep the pace of narrative going in an intriguing way which takes a turn for the better when Casi encountered his first ever defeat and accordingly began realizing the implications of myriad topics which were till now, mainly circumscribed to the discussions he was a mere part of but soon engulfed in the centre of the universe feeling Now, as I referred this novel being a beautiful undiscovered landscape, I must admit that along with the presence of beautiful flora, there are some weeds harmless though which interrupts its flow, at times in a frustrating manner There are numerous digressions, but most of them held my interest as at the very beginning the author stated in a meta style And this is as good a time as any for you, gentle reader, to learn that I can wander a bit while storytelling so that the very imminent digressive passage on the judicial creation of Miranda warnings can be entirely skipped by the uncurious without the slightest loss of narrative steamBut still others can test your patience, so be patient Occasionally during the various discussions, sometimes it gets difficult to tell whether a character is being smart or over smart and also many of the involved voices gets mixed up during the whole course that they all begin to sound same especially since the sentences usually doesn t end with elucidations like Dan said, Angus said, etc., though on paying attention, the difference can be figured out, so a bit work there for the gentle readers Around half way through, I accused the novel of being over accesorised, where all the elements are wonderful individually, but on putting them together, they didn t produce a very endearing picture, which is not entirely incorrect but once you get hold of the whole point behind Singularity it all starts to make sense, which now brings me to the main purpose behind writing this review.I have difficulty in defining what consists of a Difficult Literature especially since my difficult could be someone s easy and vice versa So having given thought to various aspects of the so called difficult or erudite or elitist literature, this book, by no way is difficult and very much readable I can t really relate to incessant comparisons of De La Pava with Pynchon, Joyce, DeLillo, Gaddis and other eggheaded writers As far as Wallace is concerned, yes the influence is quite apparent but in no way overshadows De La Pava s originality and let s face it, not everyone has read those writers and not everyone will Comparisons usually give rise to two arguments one is better than the other and one is not better than the other The middle path, one is as good as other a bilateral endorsement is probably unfair to both the parties involved The real enjoyment and understanding of a work of art can be derived if we try to view it in isolation of every other similar work and try to focus what we think about its content on an individualistic level I can t really tell my philosophies apart I have opinions, but I keep them to myself, not because I can t face an opposing view but mainly because, I don t have people around me to discuss such things with So in such a situation, when I read a book like ANS, it actually fills that void, where I can ponder upon various questions and their answers, to which either I ve given some thought to or no thought at all and eventually becomes aware about my unawareness You either agree with narrator s point or you don t, you might end up taking sides or complacently sits in a neutral position but in any case, you re at a winning end coz it tells you something about yourself This book made me a winner One of the important points I was curious about was its title, which is explained there in and as suspected, it does relate to the astrophysics terminology you can google it and how beautifully De La Pava relates it to our lives In a nutshell, what we really need is a telescopic view and not a microscopic one over the things happening around us and also within us, viscerally that is So my point is, that this book can be and should be read or at least given a chance by every wise reader, who likes fast paced, high energy, insanely funny and deliciously insightful literature It s long but not boring, doesn t have that can t be a word kind of vocab and even if you want to skip some parts, it won t hamper your reading experience And it is 100% fun guaranteed and your money s worth it talks about importance of advertising too, so there There are few loose ends and sporadic instances, but they shouldn t worry you as they can be easily put together.I would also like to add that it takes time for any writer before he gains a reputation wherein he can write whatever he wishes to and gets away with it However, such a luxury is not always afforded by a debut writer and not at all when he s basically a new and shy kid on the block, so to produce an encyclopedic novel such as this, the risk involved is huge especially since the referred author didn t want to tamper with a single word of his presumably 1st draft of the book So on viewing it from an angle that you re actually reading something pure and first hand, the feeling is completely unmatched De La Pava possibly wished to find his singularity through his work I wanted to take all this stuff and put it in a way that would at first feel chaotic I was interested in the question at what point does something become a novel and I think and hope that he succeeded in finding his answers to a great extent Those 5 stars are no result of some prejudice or leniency on my part, but are well based upon the factors which I usually take into account regarding what I like to read and hereby I rest my case.


  6. says:

    This book was transformative Unfortunately, it transformed me from love to hate in 689 pages.For about the first quarter of the book I found the style of writing invigorating and the authorial voice original The narrator is a public defender in New York City, and his scenes with the characters he represents were hilarious, heartbreaking and so absurd that they felt fantastically real.But then Over time As I continued to read, the narrative voice became and annoying And and anxiety inducing Yes, the author was skillful enough to produce emotions in me, however, I m not sure anxiety was his intention I actively got stressed picking this book up and by the time I hit about the halfway mark, I began skipping large chunks to see what would happen with the central, if buried, plot line.What was so annoying about it Over time, the character voices became artificial to me The artifice of extended monologues with the occasional not so witty banter It was the monologues that really killed me All the characters, including the main narrator, would go on long, long, much too long unnatural monologues about subjects and ideas that seemed just off from rationality or relevancy It detracted from the character s believability, for sure, and that can be excused in a book that is obviously experimental and has other values to it outside of plot or character But Naked Singularity was so character dependent so heavy in close first person point of view that I got really sick of being in that POV when it was unnatural The monologues purported to be somewhat philosophical profound or quirky or intriguing or humorous or insightful oror I don t know, I just couldn t connect to any of them They seemed like ramblings of an author who doesn t really have a point There are many, many pages, for example, featuring the main character s obsession with a champion boxer I just couldn t care less about this boxer s life story The author didn t present enough relevancy to justify the excessive detail I m sure if I obsessed over every detail of that life story, I could find some thematic connection to the overall novel, but de la Pava never pulled me into the digressions in a way that made me care enough to follow the torturous connection.Why did it produce anxiety in me I think partly the endless digressive monologues made me feel tense, because they induced a level of boredom that made me feel anxious to get back to the story But I think most of all it was the main character Casi s incredibly stupid choices It was so blatantly obvious that he was headed for a disaster that I just couldn t stand to see it happen The thread of actual plot versus talking heads is fairly modest, page count wise, and that weight actually made it painful You have to wade through so many pages of filler digressions before you get to the next chapter of Casi s stupid choices that it increased my anxiety But not in a good suspenseful way In a way that just made me want to scream Oh, and did I mention the main character was rather sickeningly cocky As was his arrogant partner in crime I also felt tense because the main plot line didn t even really come up until near the halfway point It started as a character drama, slice of life, and then suddenly becomes a mash up of author ramblings in guise of character with crime thriller I felt it was a bait and switch Honestly, even recalling this book makes me anxious Do not recommend, zero stars.


  7. says:

    Whatever anyone else says, this is a collection of mostly autobiographical writing by an extremely likeable Columbian American lawyer which he decided might as well be a novel as anything else, and because a novel can be pretty much any long stretch of prose you want to give that name to there are many novels that are just as unnovellike as this one, or even , everyone has agreed, sure, it s a novel, what else could it be Well, I think it s an entertainingly digressive memoir That s what it is I will bet 100 of your American dollars that hardly any of this stuff is made up these elephantine conversations between Casi Sergio and his friends will be versions of actual conversations, these apparent transcripts of passages from trials are, I strongly suspect, from Sergio s own cases and, for instance, I believe that Sergio did go and visit someone on Death Row once, so we get many many pages about that And comic digressions about a NYC blackout and sadistic experiments on rats All true, I bet.Another indication that Mr de la Pava is not your regular novelist is that all of the participants in the longwinded brainy colloquies talk in exactly the same voice Like this typical rant Here s a person who can t get through a single day without chemical assistance This despite the fact that his day consists of wearing an Italian suit and tapping keys from an ergonomically designed chair in an airtight, temperature controlled office then after work stopping by Citarella to pick up some freshly baked peasant bread to compliment his dinner overlooking the arboreal serenity visible from his apartment on Central Park West That s the life he leads yet he can t abstain but he s perfectly willing to judge harshly people who share their beds with rats, use their ovens to heat their apartments, and so turn to admittedly stronger chemical distractions What do you say about a situation where the Citarella people control the fate of the oven heated people and use that power to cage them for behavior they themselves engage in Don t know about you but I can read that kind of stuff till the cows come home, although it s nothing we haven t encountered in Tom Wolfe or Philip Roth many times over And another is that a propos of nothing at all, he will shove in 15 detailed pages about the rise and fall of Puerto Rican boxer Wilfred Benitez if he damn well feels like it Or a recipe for a delicious Colombian casserole Or a 20 page narrative poem Go Sergio It s your damned book After rambling around with leisurely lawyerly debate, discussion, digression and diatribe this book shows you can have a leisurely diatribe with a couple of My Crazy Columbian Family interludes and recipes and whatall we get to page 400 longer than many actual novels before there is any whisper, any scintilla, any forensic trace of anything as lowly as a plot But there is a plot, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeventually, all about ripping off some drug dealers Oh really Really Even this, I can argue, is not made up I can easily believe that our author the lawyer contemplated doing exactly this thing once, when he and his lawyer mate were cracking a couple of cold ones, and they realised they were in possession of information from a client which no one else knew they knew, information about the exact time and place, the large amount of dough involved, and so on All the lovely details And so Wouldn t it be wild if if we actually yes, us, two young lawyers When the plot gets going, it s a half hearted affair, like our author figured he d better shove something plotlike in to his nearly 900 pages to kind of show willing And the plot is the worst thing about this book I wish he d not have bothered I liked all the randomness and wanderings and daft conversations Question Did you care about any of the characters Answer No, not for one tiny second Really only two characters elevated themselves above faint pencil sketches and became identifiable, and one of those was our first person author.Question irritated Did it make you laugh Answer I think two chuckles But he does quote one of the all time best quotes I ever saw If you could live forever, would you and why I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever, Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.Question tartly So cut the crap, do you recommend it or don t you Answer downcast eyes Well hmmm It s okay.it s quite entertaining I I never got bored does that help It s a real long time reading not to be bored, hmmm looks up, piercing blue eyes, hopeful grin with quizzical eyebrow Question with sneer You know, that couldn t be mistaken for a ringing endorsement What about all these rave reviews Look at these blurbs a propulsive, mind bending experience a cross between Descartes and Disneyland Casi s voice is astonishing one of the best and most original novels of the decade Crime and Punishment as reimagined by the Coen Brothers Answer adopting increasingly patrician tone Those blurby blurbs The bane of our lives Have these people never actually read any great American novels This book is really not the bolt of lightning, the bold new voice, the astonishing debut, the misunderstood masterpiece, the challenging new DFW on the block, none of that, none of that This novel is vastly nice It s enormously amiable It s excellent company But only if you like lawyers who are nerdy, in love with their lawyerliness, with big liberal hearts, and whose speaking parts have absolutely no cut off switch.


  8. says:

    The epic American novel re invented, that s worth every one of it s 864 pages A post modernistic breakdown of John Grisham s legal thriller, El Leonard s crime caper, Scorsese s New York, early Tarantino, and even a sprinkle of Ocean s Eleven, all infused with a Voltairian sensibility Reads like an HBO series that would leave you wanting the box set Hugely ambitious, confident and precise in it s inventive storytelling with moments that are equally gripping, poignant and funny Certain courtroom proceedings are often hilarious including one involving the mispronunciation of a name that had me laughing inside There is a hell of a lot of dialogue which takes up a massive percentage resulting in a quick and snappy pacing that not only works so well but helps take huge chunks out of it s length where you could quite easily get through 50 100 pages in no time and wonder where they had gone The final third is set up perfectly that it really is hard to put down It s length bothered me at first, but in the end I couldn t think of too many moments that were boring Occasionally the narrative was unevenly balanced, mainly during the middle third The fact that De La Pava is actually a real life public defender in New York City, which is certainly his expertise, tends to see him at times get lost in his own world, that spills over a little too much But this could also be seen as a blessing because the attention to detail regarding the New York criminal legal system is quite fascinating As first novels go it s a great effort, and as he handles up to 80 cases at a time I m amazed he managed to write something so long in between his work commitments He says of himself, The stakes are a lot higher in that world than whether or not my book gets attention On a given day, I have someone who really needs my help on a serious matter.


  9. says:

    I would imagine most of us have at some point thought of writing a novel and I would imagine most of us have come unstuck at the idea of finding a form for our ideas To some extent De La Pava solves this problem by doing away with form He just writes about what s on his mind until late in the 864 page novel when he throws in a rather lame plot De La Pava was a defence attorney in New York and so is his narrator Early on, we get a fascinating insight into the cases he s working on, any one of which would serve to dramatise how cynical and mercantile is the American justice system Often hapless individuals doing no harm to anyone except themselves coaxed by undercover law enforcement agents to commit some petty crime and then facing ten to fifteen years in prison as if they were bred for no other purpose It s a shame he didn t take up one of these cases and make this the overriding theme of his novel But De La Pava, though a very likeable individual, is far too narcissistic not to place himself at the centre of the story And so we get lots of very long winded existential dialogues where he appears to be talking to himself half his characters come across as variants of himself and on this evidence creating characers isn t his strong point And we get surreal dream sequences and rather dull family scenes together with a long account of the career of a relatively unknown boxer All recounted with prevailing stand up comedian aspirations When he and a fellow attorney get wind of the details of a massive drug deal about to take place they decide to intervene and take the money This is the rather lame plot called upon to give the novel some semblance of form De La Pava is a decent writer though his prose stylistically isn t very interesting I wasn t often bored but on the whole I struggled to understand what all the fuss is about It did though make we want to return to David Foster Wallace who, you sense, is De La Pava s overriding influence.


  10. says:

    I was skeptical when I read the back cover, which in a single quoted sentence compares the author to Voltaire, Melville, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare and Hemingway While the comparison is amusingly excessive, it is true that this book is in fact, the real deal.What s incredible is that this novel was written by an actual, real life New York public defender That s incredible because a the novel is not what you d expect from someone writing about his profession sure, it reflects a intimate relationship with the job and is deeply entrenched in its inner workings, but it s not a procedural it constantly breaks out of itself to explore the wider universe, in the way that all truly great novels do in this, I am myself reminded of Melville, as well as Mann and b Sergio de la Pava can really write not just competent sentences, but hold together such an sprawling, expansive, encompassing narrative, a true melting pot of literary influences, highly original and creative, so full of passion and intertextuality Yes, there are times that the writing style is slightly odd, and one could argue that the dialogue on the whole is not congruent to how real people speak to each other But these are superficial criticisms What comes through in this work is and contrast this with the majority of works in the PoMo category an overwhelming sense of honesty and sincerity It s the spirit of someone who loves to dream, who takes pleasure in the act of creation, who is not self servingly seeking the heights of literary form, but merely searching for sincere self expression Arguably, A Naked Singularity is not as polished as many of the works it can be compared to, and from which it clearly draws influence the DeLillos and DFWs of the world Compared to these it is something of a rough diamond But it certainly belongs in the same class.