Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howling fantods, anyone?, August 14, 2012
This review is from: A Naked Singularity (Paperback)
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 the radar, his brain a sapient submarine with the torqued turbines whirring, writing the most spectacular linguistic blitzkrieg of a novel that I have encountered in the past decade (or more). Too bad publicity counts for so much, because the only introduction he needs is this phenomenal, audacious, achingly humane book to speak for itself.

It reads like defiance with a deep, scalding, tender, moral center. As in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, it is full of subversive philosophical digressions and anarchic linguistic feats, while invoking the acute probity that penetrated and pervaded Wallace's seminal work of postmodern fiction. But he does not mimic DFW. De La Pava has his own style that also pays homage to Wallace, as well as others such as Pynchon and Gaddis, but other than recognizing that he is the literary stepson or nephew or cousin to this group of writers, you observe that he is the master of his own insurgent narrative.

How refreshing that the back cover of the novel doesn't spell out the plot and spoil the adventure of discovery. My intention is to just give a whiff, provoke you to read this book. If you like unconventional, genre-bending, linguistic acrobatics, you'll delight in this novel. De La Pava combines a bracing book of ideas with a thrilling crime caper, which is at the root of the novel's digressions. So if you also want a driven, page-turning, heated suspense, you will be blissed out with the white-knuckle, fist-clenching plot at the center of the story.

You follow twenty-four-year-old Casi (no last name given) in every scene, a brilliant public defender in the Manhattan criminal justice system, circa 2002 (but it never states that). There's lots of dialogue--it actually begins with a typical day at work for Casi, with dialogue as the main narrative thrust, and the injustices of the justice system a scorching context that is so absurd as to be authentic. Wait--actually, it is so authentic as to be absurd. Anyway, it is ripe and thoroughly engaging with easy access right from the pages to the courthouse. If you like The Wire, you will like this breezy but blistering exchange of voices. Casi's negotiations with drug-addled, impoverished criminals and nefarious judges illuminate just how inverted and perverted morality and justice can be. It's an unfiltered colloquy that self-critiques with its nakedness, and reads unplugged like the basement tapes of the New York justice system.

Don't forget it has a sinewy, chewy center. You won't be able to breathe as you get nearer and nearer and then immerse in the wily, implausible, but believable and mad, madcap, tense, intense, heart-racing, unstoppable mischievous pole vault of tomfoolery at its core. Oh, and the beauty, the unutterable beauty of the novel as a whole.

De La Pava's novel radiates a rogue nobility and optimism through the muck--humanity eclipsing the corruption and toxicity of bureaucracy and entertainment, Television with a capital T, justice with a capital punishment. It hits the upper and lower registers of the heart and soul with a moving potency. De La Pava can talk about anything and make it interesting. I am now well-informed about middleweight boxing, a sport I had no interest in before, but the author blends it in like allegory.

Casi is flawed, as are all these true-to-life and larger-than-life characters, but graced with a clemency and charm that is displayed when he is with his family, mostly Colombian immigrants with a rich vernacular and sumptuous recipe for empanadas. Casi's interactions with family serve as a luminous contrast to his work life, adding a dimension of emotional vulnerability to Casi's character that also kindles and reflects his conscience.

Imagine what this encyclopedic novel can encompass and it is probably there. Philosophy, media, crime, entertainment, love, intelligence, The Honeymooners, boxing, psychology, physics and more. The author navigates the 21st century without including cell phones, computers (and emails), and no mention of 9/11! Yay!

This book is a recipe for singular pleasure, enjoyable whether naked or clothed. Remarkable, towering, darkly comical, heartbreaking. Free of petty homilies and clichés, leave your platitudes at the door.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 14, 2012 6:57:18 AM PDT
Bug...this is your MASTERPIECE review! Brava, my dear book sister! You are my Word Diva. Evie

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2012 5:43:48 PM PDT
Your reviews just rock. I just put this book on my wish list. Funny how you and Evie both just reviewed -- and both reviews were fantastic.

Pam

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2012 7:55:43 PM PDT
Pam--I actually read this months ago but they have another edition on Amazon so I posted the review here, too. This book is everything and more. It rocks the universe! Bug

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2012 7:56:20 PM PDT
Awwww...thank you, Evie. Thank you both! This book just brings the gush out...

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 12:10:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 12:11:14 AM PST
I'm not sure if it were yours or Evelyn Getchell but either way both great reviews of a fantastic book. thanks

Posted on Sep 9, 2013 5:53:01 AM PDT
Excellent review.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2013 9:01:24 AM PDT
Thank you, Robert!
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