…And now what have we here? Cadres of discerning readers, mostly male, incisive in their book sale crate digging, adherents supplicating at the altar of postmodern sprawl, have trained their eye on a forming planet still in its infancy within our authorial galaxy of ambitious doortstop novels. The planet’s name? Sergio de la Pava.
If de la Pava’s novel A Naked Singularity, to stretch this metaphor beyond the decency of literary device, were a planet you might imagine it as a large moon barely tethered betwixt larger celestial bodies named William Gaddis and David Foster Wallace. de la Pava appears to be clearly influenced by Gaddis’ dizzying multitudinous applications of language. The dizzying effect, due to de la Pava’s fearless use of vernacular and the smattering of a chorus of voices, leaves the reader to parse individual voices with no regard for making the dialogue something so pedestrian as ‘easy to follow’. No, certainly not. This is a busy novel in a busy time of multi-multitasking.
DFW minions will find comfort in the familiar. Where Wallace waxed breathlessly about the nuances of tennis in Infinite Jest, de la Pava challenges the ur-manic scribe with his own panting aggrandizement of a very specific place and time in the sport of boxing. You may be a converted admirer to the Sweet Science much as I was.
For all of de la Pava’s prodigious ability wielding a pen, he leaves the reader breathless with not only his considerable breadth of knowledge-he dazzles with descriptive, incredibly detailed tangents-but his obvious abnormal sized heart. Casi, our protagonist is a public defender fighting the good fight. And we witness Casi’s first defeat. A defeat not caused by out-torting, by out maneuvering, by opposing counsel’s cerebral cortex housing a larger legal marginalia, but by a broken down system serving only the interest of its own bureaucratic fetishes. By egregiously failing the very citizenship it was set up to serve…something we see every day. For a further point of reference, see the entire television series The Wire. If you’re a fan of work that exposes an overt disgust at how our legal system fails the people who need it most, you’ll find that familiar disdain within the pages of this novel.