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A Naked Singularity: A Novel by Sergio De La…
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A Naked Singularity: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Sergio De La Pava

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2121055,047 (4.06)16
Member:sn
Title:A Naked Singularity: A Novel
Authors:Sergio De La Pava
Info:University of Chicago Press (2012), Paperback, 678 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:crime, legal, lawyers, drugs, boxing, family, immigrants, new york city

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A Naked Singularity: A Novel by Sergio De La Pava

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Enjoyed being dumped headfirst into the opening pages. For me the book had only one voice. The various characters were well described but once they had to argue a point their voice was an echo of Casi. I soon ceased to read any of the discussions. because it was Casi in stereo. Philosophical discussions do not make for great story telling. Pity there was so much of it. Congrats to Casi for being so well educated and having so many well educated friends,

And as for the boxer - this was great blocks of filler, more showing off as to how detailed the research was. There again maybe he made it all up, who knows? How many people can name a single PR boxer? Unless you are really into boxing all of the boxing tales are simply in the way of the narrative.

Did I enjoy it - yes. Did I finish it - yes, but only because I flicked over numerous pages of digression. The end? What choice did the author leave himself? Boredom, or lack of imagination, had Casi put down as a mad dog. Kept thinking of Alice Through The Looking Glass. ( )
  quilgar | Feb 15, 2014 |
Definitely for fans of DFW and the like. I really enjoyed it, great turns of phrase, even the tangents were interesting. The end was a little much for me but I can see why he did it. ( )
  Brainannex | Oct 26, 2013 |
In many ways, this is a great novel, but it just gets too bogged down in tangents, only some of which are interesting. A stiff run with a good editor (who can keep the spirit of the book alive), would have been very welcome. I am an attorney and I have to say, this is the best book about the legal system (especially the criminal end of things) I have ever read. I felt like someone was watching over my shoulder. So the parts that were the most impressive for me were any of the legal parts, courtroom scenes, dialog with the defendants, judges, prosecutors, fellow public defenders, etc. That is where it really shined - some of the funniest and most perceptive conversations in contemporary fiction. I also loved anything having to do with Casi's family, who were awesome, hilarious and so incredibly real. The novel is steeped in machismo, so the female characters are all rather lame or objects of sexual desire or ridicule. That is where I felt it fell flat, or well, uninspired. That combined with tedious diatribes from some truly repugnant male characters who "like to smell their own farts" (for lack of a better description) made the book drag in many spots. And the ending (literally the last few pages) is terrible. But overall, it was creative, in some ways brilliant and I just always give authors a LOT of credit for using intelligence to come up with new ways of looking at fiction and ideas. Despite how comical the interactions were with the defendants, there is an underlying respect and kindness to those who have those rough roads in life. There is little question this book is not for everyone, but if you get into the first 20 pages or so, you will be hooked. Give it a try, enjoy the ride and hang in there during the boring parts. ( )
  CarolynSchroeder | Oct 24, 2013 |
Ali is the cause célèbre for this queue-jumping further up that oh-please-somebody-make-it-stop tower, although Garima is responsible for it being there.
  Scribble.Orca | Mar 31, 2013 |
It’s not every day that you encounter a book that pulls you under for hours at a time, submerges you in a world that’s surreal and real at the same time, one that’s eerie precisely because it’s so familiar. You don’t even notice that you’ve been holding your breath the entire time until you surface from the book, so dazzled by what you’ve experienced that you have a hard time processing what just happened. That’s how I felt the entire time that I read all 678 pages of this behemoth of a story by Sergio de la Pava. Each time that I tried to marshal my thoughts on this book into writing, tried to capture the experience of this book, my words just scattered everywhere. It’s difficult to describe a book that is about so many things.

A Naked Singularity will appeal to those readers who love overstuffed, ambitious books, full of ideas, seemingly random tangents, action and non-action, grittiness, whimsy, philosophy, absurdity, fairness, injustice, winners, losers, characters who are wise, characters who break your heart, and characters who are bullshitters; readers who can put their trust in the author and just go along for the ride, even when you don’t know where the fuck he’s taking you.

Right from the start, A Naked Singularity gets up in your face, pushing and prodding you to pay attention, to keep up. You end up in the middle of some conversation and you don’t know where the hell you are, but you just go with it. Soon, you come to realize that you’ll be experiencing this world through Casi, a young, talented public defender, as he navigates the criminal justice system in New York. He introduces us to the myriad people he’s defending (those accused of selling drugs and murder, those who are truly guilty, the innocent, the mentally-impaired); his encounters with a weird, high-strung guy who convinces him to take part in a heist to steal drug money; and his interactions with his strange neighbors conducting a silly TV experiment. Also woven throughout are continuous glimpses of the rise and fall of a famous Puerto Rican boxer.

You get meditations/digressions on how the law enforcement system isn’t just some disinterested party arresting powerless people, morality, the war on drugs, the death penalty, ideas about genius and talent, perfection, self-perception, the power of television and advertising, and those are just the obvious ones.

Even as all of these things are jam-packed into the book, never did it feel like a chore to read and that’s a credit to the strong narrative voice we have. De la Pava just has a way with dialogue and monologue, where the language just feels alive and authentic; it holds your attention, regardless of what the subject is. My four-star rating is a nod to this energetic prose.

I left off one star because there were a few misteps for me. There were one or two too many absurd situations for my taste. Once Ralph Kramden showed up (or did he?), it was just too much for me. But even then, I might’ve been able to overlook them had there been more emotional depth in the story. While I gulped down the story, I never felt any emotional pull, never understood Casi, never truly empathized with the characters. The only times in which the book seemed to get at some emotional truth were found in the stories of the mentally-impaired murderer on death row whom Casi defended and the story of the boxer. They evoked some sense of pathos, but they were tiny ripples of emotion, barely breaking through.

A shorthand way for a lot of people who tried to capture the appeal of this book is to compare it to Infinite Jest. And this comparison holds in a few ways, I agree. However, where the two diverge most distinctly for me is the effective expression of emotion. Infinite Jest had it, but A Naked Singularity didn't.

That being said, I still really liked the story. So the book had a few misses in the midst of the hits; that’s just the risk any author takes in plunking something this huge and ambitious onto the laps of readers, and that the readers take in agreeing to the challenge of reading it. By the end, you just hope that in the final tally the hits outweigh the misses. Good thing that this is the case with A Naked Singularity. ( )
1 vote Samchan | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Book description
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 any crime novel. If Infinite Jest stuck a pin in the map of mid-90s 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 William Gaddis’s 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226141799, Paperback)

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 any crime novel. If Infinite Jest stuck a pin in the map of mid-90s 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 William Gaddis’s 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 any crime novel. If Infinite Jest stuck a pin in the map of mid-90s 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 William Gaddis's 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"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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