A Naked Singularity

By Sergio De Pava

A novel wherein Casi, a young NYC public defender and son of Colombian immigrants, will suffer his first loss at trial then seek to reduce the sting of that defeat by using inside information to meticulously plan and execute a heist of illicit millions. Where said actions will not only come to the attention of a persistent police detective but also unleash a menacing giant bent on violent revenge; two pursuers Casi must then outrace while navigating a world expanded by theoretical physics to encompass the rise and fall of boxer Wilfred Benitez, Alabama s death row, psych experiments involving Ralph Kramden, and enough comedic energy to power the stars.

A Naked Singularity is a perfect example: it’s by first-time author Sergio De La Pava, it was published by Xlibris in 2008 with no fanfare and no acclaim, and it’s a masterpiece. The book’s plot is at once simple a grubbily valorous lawyer in the New York public defender’s office buffeted by conscience and tempted by the possibility of an illicit fortune, takes on the case of Alabama death row inmate Jalen Kingg and watches his entire life spin out of control and bewilderingly complex, involving hundreds of out-sized characters and thousands of digressions on topics ranging across the entirety of the 21st century intellectual spectrum, from baseball to pop culture to (as its title suggests) particle physics. In its sheer scope, its extended stretches of rhetorical razzle dazzle, and the utterly deadpan way it grapples with all that’s darkest in human nature, A Naked Singularity propels the reader into a literary maelstrom worthy of Pynchon, and Gaddis….[T]he fulcrum of criminal justice allows A Naked Singularity to explore the wide array of subjects that obsess its author; whaling gave Melville the same freedom in Moby-Dick, and in both books, characters converse in baroque homilies that are as far from the bulleted minimalism of modern fiction as it’s possible to imagine. This is very much the Karamazov, not the Coen, brothers . . . I didn t miss A Naked Singularity and neither should you.
Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly Arts & Literature Microreview 4/8/09

692 pages

Location: New York City
# Fiction

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