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Personae

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  49 reviews
At issue is what will become of this grand edifice. We built it
up and into the sky in the hopes of reaching heaven and now as
it crumbles down around us we find that this great distance we
thought we'd traveled can close in an instant. So what now?
Because a person flung backward by adversity can run away
in the direction flung, meekly stay put, or slowly, grudgingly,
inch-by-i
...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Xlibris Corporation
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  49 reviews


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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 22, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: Personae
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: A person
The following Review should be in no way construed as an endorsement of Self Published Authors (correctly reduced to the acronym “SPA”) ;.



“Sergio de la Pava’s Strange Personae” by Diego Báez ; Today, Monday November 4, 2013 :: Gapers Block, a web publication established in 2003 Chicago Illinois ::

“On September 30th of this year, the University of Chicago Press published Personae, the ambitiously genre-blending, polyvocal second novel by Sergio de la Pava, author of last year's award-winning, 698
...more
MJ Nicholls
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: merkins, novels
More ink than this slip of a novel deserves has been spilled by Hattie Heidegger himself and can be read via that hyperlink. This sampler of the de la Pavaian prose was impressive and despite the organisational failure and unfortunate ennui that arrives during the overlong brains-in-a-vat playlet and the opaque wispiness of various sections and the contrived and wince-inducing tone as the novel hobbles towards its faux-profound climax, Personae is an otherwise promising postbox of postmodern pas ...more
Drew
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Unfortunately, I don't think I can talk intelligently about Personae, but here are some scattered thoughts about it:

-I think it was Nathan who said a book as short as this needs to be tight--hermetically sealed, even. This is just as messy as A Naked Singularity, possibly in certain ways even more so. The disparate parts certainly don't come together quite as well.

-The play, whose name I'd change to Six Characters in Search of an Idea, is nauseating in places. E.g. from a cue on the very first p
...more
Adam
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was fun, but A Novel it didn't quite make. There's an 111-year-old corpse whose ad hoc texts comprise three substantial sections, and a 40-year-old musical savant turned preternatural detective who may or may not be writing her dying hallucinations. Plot? Schmot. And that's fine. The varied parts possess their own raison d'etre, which are loosely tethered by a skein of mortality, memory, literature, and doing the right thing. The prose, you know, predominates, especially when deadpanning th ...more
Jonathan Norton
I'm giving this 2 stars because there are moments of talent scattered about, and also it's Christmas. Although this is the author's 2nd novel it reads more like a piece of juvenilia exhumed for a quick follow-up to his debut novel, which was apparently well-received. I've got no desire to read it, as this work merely ticks off a series of postmodern cliches (appropriating genre detective fiction; discovered notebooks; unexplained deaths and lost lives; name-dropping sophomoric discursions on cla ...more
Steve
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Phil
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellence requires risk. One has to swing for the fences to drive in a home run. Sometimes that swing is a miss. It's disappointing, but still makes you wonder about what could have been.

DLP appears to be an author who is often occupied by the nature of perfection and the associated bits (introspection, sacrifice, isolation, will, et al.). Such topics cannot be addressed but by swinging hard, willfully ignorant of the risks, led by his own vision and not by the hypothetical--even probable--inte
...more
Larry Ggggggggggggggggggggggggg
I really have a lot of fun reading sergio de la pavas stuff my favorite part in this here anthology was the play
Roberto
Jun 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Ugh no.
Kobe Bryant
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a weird fucking book. Wait can I swear on Goodreads?
Chrissy
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
With Sergio de la Pava's massively impressive debut novel A Naked Singularity in the rear view, I climbed tentatively into his second novel not knowing what to expect-- he set the bar very high, after all, and I was worried that the expectation of something as great would hinder my enjoyment.

What he's crafted in Personae is something very, very different from A Naked Singularity. It may not reach the high bar set by its predecessor, but that is owed more to the fact that it hardly tries to. One
...more
Giedra
Oct 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club-2
How did this even get published? As far as I can tell, Sergio de la Pava wrote a few random pieces, including a (terrifically dull) play in the absurdist style, and when none of them really worked he just created a frame around them in which the works are discovered by a not-very-interesting detective investigating the death of the fictional author of the works, and then he called the mish-mash a novel. There were occasional nice turns of phrase and true-to-life observations….but not enough to r ...more
Ron
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very hard to know what to say about what this book is about. For me, the various fragments never cohered into anything that seemed to make sense. The most interesting parts were the obituaries of the old writer and the rather young, 40-ish- "detective" who examines the crime scene, discovers, I think, some manuscripts, which are the other fragments we see. The play was endless and pointless, the last story interesting but never connected together in my mind (the South American revenge seeking gu ...more
David Musgraves
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
An interesting follow up to Naked Singularity, the author has replaced maximalism with more fugue-like, poetic verses.
Mashes together philosophy and magical realism in the styles of Marquez, David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), and something like House of Leaves, with an Ionesco/Beckett play sitting right in the middle.
Personally, I prefer the maximalism, but this is a great second novel.
Garrett Peace
Not quite sure what to make of this one. A Naked Singularity is one of my favorite books, and this is not much like that one. I knew that going in, but what De La Pava is doing here is more interesting in theory than in execution, I think, and he’s covering stylistic ground that’s already been covered by writers who have done it better. Kind of a let-down.
Chris Via
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
So much to say, so little time to say it. Hopefully I can circle back to this review after Lost Empress. I’m sure this book was a much more profitable experience than everyone else’s on the plane (an abundance of the Patterson-Clinton collaboration).
Twhite
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Perhaps the mistake was to read naked singularity first. This is noway near as, whats the right word, complete and enjoyable as naked singualrity.
Debbie
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Never able to get into the fragmentary nature of the book. Moving on!
Karlan
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
This experimental novel left vivid images in my mind. The slim book jumps from NYC to the jungles of Colombia with striking pictures of unusual characters. The plot is confusing, but the book is short so I happily persevered.
Roger Brunyate
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Borges, Beckett, bafflement, and (alas) boredom

I was sucked in by the back-cover blurb. It opens with an enthusiastic account of De La Pava's novel A Naked Singularity (which I have not read), then continues: "THIS BOOK IS NOTHING LIKE THAT ONE. Just look at it: A Naked Singularity was a brick of a book, 678 pages, and this one's slim—neat and focused." And so on. Who could resist such self-deprecating modesty? Leafing through, one saw newspaper copy, scholarly articles with footnotes, somet
...more
Josh Luft
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sergio De La Pava's follow-up to the colossally brilliant A Naked Singularity is a briefer affair that's still jam-packed with ideas and styles. Like the novel before it, Personae was self-published before getting picked up by the University of Chicago Press--and THANK YOU for that, UCP--and it made me wonder if part of this novel is a kind of look-what-I-can-do! entreaty. I mean, imagine creating something like A Naked Singularity and then having it be ignored by publishers. So you self-publish ...more
MickthePaddy
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
VERY PO-MO. reminds me of an amalgamation of writing projects that have been weaved together to salvage a book. in fact it really works more as a collection than a novel per se - it is composed of:

I. The Ocean
II. Personae
III. Energeias.

the novelistic "glue" that holds these elements together (barely) is a mysterious death which is investigated by the author's narrator Helen Tame, who contributes some really horrible prose - there are also some marathon sentences, that should not have been attemp
...more
Paul JB
Loved Naked Singularity, but couldn't abide the 100 or so pages of this that were billed as a 'Sartrean drama'. Everything else I could get on board with, but De La Pava's gouged a huge whole in the middle of his novel to make room for some pretty undergraduate level navel gazing, which (at its worst) unintentionally recalls Douglas Adams's philosophers ("I demand that I am Vroomfondel!") in the same way that minor celebs emitting a constant low level desperation at all times can't help but evok ...more
Pickle Farmer
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't get most of this book while I was reading it, but I got it at the end. I definitely preferred A Naked SIngularity but this was a cool follow-up: a very ballsy, avant-garde book. It's not really the kind of book to read when you are super exhausted and busy most of the time (as is the case w/my life right now). It's the kind of book where u need to really pay attention and use your brain. Also, it didn't help that the main chunk of text was a Satre-Beckett-like play, which has never real ...more
Ipsit
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The follow up to his totally fantastic novel A Naked Singularity (one of my favorites published last year), Personae takes on such a different shape it’s hard to believe it’s written by the same author. Where Singularity was gripping in voice and sheer ability to build pace and tension, Personae exhibits a whole other sheath of skills, one much more oblique and collage-like in its trajectory. And yet, de la Pava’s line-to-line brilliance and ambition are unmistakably his, and the manner in which ...more
liza
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
the jury is still out. i love his writing style, but i'm not entirely sure i get this book. i kinda wish de la pava was my neighbor so i could go over and ask questions.

i understand why some commenters have said the book jumps around too much or that the characters go off on tangents, but i think this is an intentional device used to good effect rather than the poor editing some have suggested. i'm pretty sure we're meant to see the story through the foggy haze of The Big Mysteries.

i'm going to
...more
Mark Kumleben
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Something of a disappointment - a character sketch (of 'the Writer') which fails to display any of the skill evinced so well in ANS. If you imagine it as a series of pastiches of David Foster Wallace, Sartre, and McCarthy it just about functions, but the essential object which the book could have achieved - painting for us the dead Writer in his own words - remains essentially distant. De La Pava's Writer is as shallow as his Helen Tame. Sad that an excellent character writer should produce some ...more
Magen Flowers
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It probably has flaws I simply can't see at the moment, so I'll just say that, while I loved this book so much that it's going on my All-Time Favorites list, it may not be for everyone. It's weird. It's difficult. Frustrating, even. But it made me laugh quite a few times and managed to illuminate many of those elusive human emotional recesses we intuitively grasp the nature of but so often fail to put into words. Oh, and the man was SPOT ON when it came to the description of m ...more
Andrew
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Good, but not great. Oddly patchy after the brilliance of Naked Singularity. While there were flourishes of excellence (the final chapter was a lovely story- written in a voice very similar to that of Singularity's Casi), the entire thing felt too loose. De La Pava would've done well to either make this book much longer and drawn focus in at the rate he did for this 200 pager, OR just gotten a whip crack editor to make this more pointed. I still have hope for him as a writer though- I'm just hop ...more
Vincent
Flashes of brilliance and moments of frustration. I applaud the ambition, and while I am happy to have read it, I am happy to have read it. Meaning I am glad I'm not reading it right now. I hear A Naked Singularity is better. I'm adding that to the proverbial list, though I think I need a bit of a break from de la Pava. Off to read Thomas Lynch and Yoani Sanchez. They ought to provide a nice contrast.
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Sergio de la Pava is the author of A Naked Singularity.
Sergio de la Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.

In August, 2013, Sergio won PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for his debut fiction, A Naked Singularity.

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