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A Naked Singularity

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,258 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Casi is a hotshot public defender working on the front line of America’s War on Drugs. So far he’s on the winning side. He’s never lost a case. But nothing lasts forever, and pride like his has a long way to fall.

Funny, smart and always surprising, A Naked Singularity speaks a language all of its own and reads like nothing else ever written. Casi’s beautiful mind and plane
Paperback, 689 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Xlibris Corporation
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joshua Nomen-Mutatio by: Greg
Shelves: fiction
"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 ha
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
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 more 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 Singulari
Stephen M
"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."

"Boxing...philosophy...Dane...blah blah whatever."

"What the hell does rant mean?"
-Peter Griffin

It’s easy to take great writers for granted.

The amount of work
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
David Katzman
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
​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 more and more annoying. And more and m

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 becom
Paul Bryant
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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 more), 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 ...more
Steven Godin
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, Elmore 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 co ...more
Violet wells
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 relati
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
In a June, 2012 article written for The Millions, author Garth Risk Hallberg details a discussion with Sergio De La Pava in a Brooklyn coffee house. Commenting on de la Pava’s self imposed public occlusion, Hallberg writes, “For someone so reticent with the public, he talks abundantly and well, his thoughts tending to organize themselves into fluid, almost lawyerly paragraphs of narrative and argument, with these little hard-boiled explosions at the climax.” The interview continues with De La Pa ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
THE PEOPLE: May it please The Court, ladies and gentlemen of Goodreads, defense counsel, Mr. de la Pava. This book review is about crass opportunism. It is about two very different books. The first book builds plot, character and narrative force in the tradition of realism; the second gives in to the tropes of post-modernism.


THE COURT: Overruled.

THE PEOPLE: In October of 2008, the man hyperlinked above, Sergio de la Pava, self-published a massive, 678-page novel on XL
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gregsamsa by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
"It turns out that when you read you don't really take note of each individual letter. Instaed it seems your mind fills in details in service of a greater schematic...."

There was no way I was going to read this. When I started coming across some of the hype, the rapturous praise and excited descriptions were very similar--down to particular phrases and lists--to those heaped on a book called The End of Mr. Y and I got burned on that deal. Bad. I won't go into that here (as I already have, here)
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. Infinite Jest's furious attention to detail, The Recognitions's interminable yet fascinating (pseudo)intellectual dialogues, and Crime and Punishment's psychological acuity all brought together in service of a plot that seems at first to mirror the incremental moral decay of The Heart of the Matter.

Not to say that A Naked Singularity is better than all or any of these novels. But the fact that it's brought together all these elements without imploding like its namesake makes it somet
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This blazing, colossal creation was originally self-published by a vanity press in 2008, and left to hang in obscurity for four years. Here’s the author’s bio:

“Sergio De La Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.”

Consider that Brooklyn is the writer’s writers’ colony of Pulitzer and other award-stamped writers, the borough of billboard blockbusters and earnest publicity favorites scratching out their lines between the lines of the backlit white box. And, all this time, La Pava was under
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
10JAN10. Well! January isn't even half over and I think I've already found my favorite book of 2010. I'm precisely 1/6 the way through A Naked Singularity and it has shoved all my other reading to the back burner. I'm having as much fun reading this as I had reading Infinte Jest , and/or The Gold Bug Variations , and/or The Lost Scrapbook *. An assload of fun, in other words. (*De La Pava's novel reminds me of Evan Dara's The Lost Scrapbook in another way. It's self-published and out-of ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was actually quite nice here yesterday. The trouble to enjoying such was that it was the Third. Today is the Fourth and we are off on holiday. It is also infernal outdoors. Despite such I went out this a.m. and walked for hour while listening to Morrissey and Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I returned all a-soak and lobsterized by the maltreatment. It was decided then and there as I rehydrated that I would finish A Naked Singularity. The final 200 pages were clipped and episodic, losing the torqu ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
One thing that strikes me about de la Pava is he's a hell of a storyteller. He take a compelling protagonist, here the harried Casi, a public defender who has never missed a case and blends his strong sense of justice with a finely honed sense of sarcasm. He hands him the ideal foil in Dean, a cynical opportunist with a cool head obsessed with achieving perfection. And he watches what happens. In this case, you get meditations on TV, a terrific subplot about real-life boxer Wilfred Benitez, a gu ...more
Marc Kozak
It is, by law, impermissible to review this book and not compare it to the works of David Foster Wallace. Just by hearing that, you can probably get an idea of what to expect:

• A book that has a physical size big enough to crush even the largest of spiders.

• Characters who speak in identical, impossible dialogue, all of them supremely educated, eloquent, long-winded, witty, and oh-so-clever

• Digressions that have digressions inside of digressions.

• Non-traditional, non-linear, occasionally nonse
Chris Via
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2018
This is the most satisfying reading experience I've had since I kicked off 2016 with The Recognitions . This is a significant achievement for a thirty-eight-year-old lawyer (born in 1970, Sergio de la Pava self-published this novel in 2008 via XLibris) and a testament to an individual's vision over the strictures and biases of the marketplace. Like The Recognitions , You Bright and Risen Angels , V. , and, more recently, Novel Explosives , A Naked Singularity is a constituent of a ...more
Jim Elkins
Problems with Combining DFW's Prose with Detective-Story Plots

I'm writing these opening paragraphs in May 2018; I wrote the review that follows in fall 2011. At that time de la Pava's only book was "Naked Singularity," and it was not well known. It's famous now for having been self-published after 88 agents rejected the proposal; after it was published by University of Chicago Press (thanks, I think, in large measure to Kristy McGuire), it got more attention; in 2015 or so I found a copy, publis
Jason Pettus
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Uh-oh, I thought when first receiving the 700-page, print-on-demand A Naked Singularity from Sergio De La Pava -- another self-published stream-of-consciousness epic for me to slog my way through. And the reason I had that reaction of course was because of a growing realization I've been making since
Leif Quinlan
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Just fun as hell. Not much else needs be said - though I could spend 25 pages reviewing all there is going on - sometimes it's better with certain books to just tell people, "yeah, it's badass - read it"

Yeah, it's badass
Read it
Scott Gates
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about 70% dialogue, far too much dialogue for a work of fiction, I think. Nabokov somewhere sometime said that when picking up a new work of fiction, he’d leaf through it to see how much dialogue was there. If there was too much, he’d toss the book aside.

The problem is not just the overabundance of dialogue. There are two prominent strains of dialogue in the novel. (1) The Needlessly Clever Dialogue. These will include an unfortunate level of wisecracking irony and mannered one-li
An impressive debut novel whose ambition sadly exceeds its execution.
A large novel about the legal system of the US narrated mostly in dialogue sounds awfully familiar and immediately leads you to think of William Gaddis' A Frolic of His Own, which is both a reasonable and an unnecessary comparison. Gaddis' characters speak mostly in speech scraps, broken half-formed sentences with constant interruptions, while Pava's characters speak in fully formed sentences, (mostly) grammatically sound and
Cathi Davis
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Imagine Douglas Adams wrote a Law & Order episode from the perspective of a public defender named Casi. Laugh, cry & be amazed. Close the book and start discussing "Who is Dane?" Devil? Super-ego? No one?
A bewitchingly different book.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
It's definitely not the next step in big 'difficult' American novels that a lot of critics are making it out to be, but A Naked Singularity certainly falls somewhere within the continuum of large, maximalist/hysterical fiction that writers like Pynchon, Foster-Wallace and Delillo have made so popular. De La Pava obviously has the insider knowledge as a public defender to skewer and satirize the NYC criminal justice system from now until judgement day, and the best parts of the book are when he's ...more
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don't normally bother to write reviews, because who's going to read 'em? and shouldn't I think of the opportunity cost? But I will argue, without a doubt or second thought or moment of hesitation, that A Naked Singularity is a masterpiece.

That's all I'll write. It's not so much a review as it is endorsement, but fuck... nothing I could write would do it justice.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gosh it IS so good. The opening, the dialogues. All excellent level. Feel shamed about myself: why I ain't not read this earlier?

By all ways. The story is about a lawyer. Interested guy, Casi. He's in deep shit. Like all of us, life beat the shit out of him.

I goona lick my own wounds. See ya' guys!
Ashley Crawford
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The surrealism of Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, the intelligence of any of DFW's writings, the absurdity of the best of Pynchon - how in the world did this 689 masterpiece slip past the mainstream publishing world? Sergio De La Pava serves up moments of hilarity and heartbreak, gritty crime and boxing (if DFW can do tennis, De La Pava can do boxing!) scenarios, next to moments of the macabre and bizarre. It builds in pace and texture to a nail-biting conclusion by which time we're sucked into ...more
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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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“The overwhelming noise we live with has made a fundamental pleasure like sex somehow less exciting, less satisfying, than it was for our libidinous forefathers and mothers. It seems to me that for sex and other pleasures to be enjoyed to the fullest, a certain contemplative quality to life must be present. If you doubt this imagine yourself for a moment having sex. Now imagine you wished to increase the pleasure you were feeling, feel it more intensely. What might you do? Well one of the things you'd probably do is close your eyes. What this does of course is shut out other stimuli. The visual quiet increases your sensual enjoyment and you concentrate more fully on the pleasure. The same is true for the removal of auditory noise as well. Well my feeling is that the average person has a much harder time doing this today than they would have decades ago. Today you close your eyes and shut off Television but the noise persists. It's part of our fabric now, our biology, and all other pleasures including sex are diminished as a result. We don't notice this derogation by the way and sex still feels great, don't get me wrong, but I think the difference is there nonetheless. Like the difference between seeing breasts when you're thirty as opposed to when you were thirteen.” 17 likes
“Intellectual discourse and investigation is admittedly great fun but only truly meaningful when conducted in the service of others.” 10 likes
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