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Apex Hides the Hurt: A Novel

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Apex Hides the Hurt: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780385507950
ISBN10: 038550795x
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Fans of the extended junketeering riffs in John Henry Days, rejoice: Colson Whitehead is back with a short, satirical novel about a city — and a man — looking for a fresh start. Gone are the extended digressions and extravagant stylistic shifts of JHD. In Apex Hides the Hurt, Whitehead sends a nomenclature consultant to sleepy Winthrop, USA, and there our attention remains, upon a millionaire, a townie, and the mayor, caught between the competing realities of what is and what could be.
Recommended by Kyle, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"There are some funny riffs on advertising here...as well as some wry commentary on how we talk about race nowadays. And of course, anything Whitehead writes is worth reading for the brilliance and originality of his phrasing. But the reason Whitehead's third novel is so moving and worthwhile is that he perfectly nails the tragic/comic nature of our smoothly packaged, hyper-verbal, and strangely stupid times." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the MacArthur and Whiting Award?winning author of John Henry Days and The Intuitionist comes a new, brisk, comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry.

When the town of Winthrop needed a new name for their town, they did what anyone would do — they hired a consultant.

The protagonist of Apex Hides the Hurt is a nomenclature consultant. If you want just the right name for your new product, be it automobile or antidepressant, sneaker or spoon, he's the man to get the job done. Wardrobe lack pizzazz? Come to the Outfit Outlet. Always the wallflower at social gatherings? Try Loquacia.

And of course, whenever you take a fall, reach for Apex, because Apex Hides the Hurt. Apex is his crowning achievement, the multicultural bandage that has revolutionized the adhesive bandage industry. Flesh-colored be damned — no matter what your skin tone is, Apex will match it or your money back.

After leaving his job (following a mysterious misfortune), his expertise is called upon by the town of Winthrop. Once there, he meets the town council, who will try to sway his opinion over the coming days.

Our expert must decide the outcome, with all its implications for the town's future. Which name will he choose? Or perhaps he will devise his own? And what's with his limp, anyway?

Apex Hides the Hurt brilliantly and wryly satirizes our contemporary culture, where memory and history are subsumed by the tides of marketing.

Review:

"Following the novels The Intuitionist (1998) and John Henry Days (2001), and the nonfiction The Colossus of New York (2004), a paean to New York City, Whitehead disappoints in this intriguingly conceived but static tale of a small town with an identity crisis.A conspicuously unnamed African-American 'nomenclature consultant' has had big success in branding Apex bandages, which come in custom shades to match any skin tone. The 'hurt' of the Apex tag line is deviously resonant, poetically invoking banal scrapes and deep-seated, historical injustice; both types of wounds are festering in the town of Winthrop, which looks like a midwestern anytown but was founded by ex-slaves migrating during Reconstruction. Winthrop's town council, locked in a dispute over the town's name, have called in the protagonist to decide. Of the three council members, Mayor Regina Goode, who is black and a descendant of the town's founders, wants to revert to the town's original name, Freedom. 'Lucky' Aberdine, a white local boy turned software magnate, favors the professionally crafted New Prospera; and no-visible-means-of-support 'Uncle Albie' Winthrop (also white) sees no sense in changing the town's long-standing name — which, of course, happens to be his own.Quirky what's-in-a-name? — style pontificating follows, and it often feels as if Whitehead is just thinking out loud as the nomenclature consultant weighs the arguments, meets the citizens and worries over the mysterious 'misfortune' that has recently shaken his faith in his work (and even taken one of his toes). The Apex backstory spins out in a slow, retrospective treatment that competes with the town's travails. The bickering runs its course listlessly, and a last-minute discovery provides a convenient, bittersweet resolution. Whitehead's third novel attempts to confront a very large problem: How can a society progress while keeping a real sense of history — when a language for that history doesn't exist and progress itself seems bankrupt? But he doesn't give the problem enough room enough to develop, and none of his characters is rich enough to give it weight. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"'Apex Hides the Hurt,' Colson Whitehead's third novel, is so deceptively simple that it risks sounding like just another skirmish in the ongoing conflict between young, cerebral novelists and our consumerist culture. Whereas Whitehead's 'John Henry Days' (2001) was a sweeping and formidable campaign of realistic satire, it's tempting to regard this new novel as a minor and predictable allegory. The... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Whitehead...continues his shrewd and playful inquiry into the American soul in a fresh and provocative tale....Whitehead archly explicates the philosophy of excess and the poetics of ludicrousness, and he incisively assesses the power inherent in the act of naming." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"In spare and evocative prose, Whitehead does Shakespeare one better: What's in a name, and how does our identity relate to our own sense of who we are?" Library Journal

Review:

"Cultural insight, conceptual ingenuity and cutting-edge humor distinguish the third novel by a New York writer who never fails to engage and intrigue....While making no attempt at depth of characterization, Whitehead audaciously blurs the line between social realism and fabulist satire." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[B]rims with the author's spiky humor and intelligence....Not a whole lot happens...but Whitehead's ruminations on the power of names, the fatuity of corporate life, advertising, race relations, and American aspirations are almost pleasure enough. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Engaging and provocative....But ultimately, Apex falls short because its protagonist, engaging as he is, lacks heart." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[A] playful, profane and cautionary tale about the dangers of valuing signs over substance, and its warning is timely....Whitehead's appealing mixture of allegory, provocation and hilarity will help prepare readers for the next pitch thrown their way." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"There are moments of real clarity...but too often they have to compete with the overweening feeling that Whitehead has Something to Say....Ultimately, we go a long way for a conclusion that reaches a little too neatly for the curtain." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"In a world crowded with big, bossy novels insisting on taking us to the ends of the earth, Colson Whitehead offers a short, quiet invitation to bum around town." Daniel Handler, Newsday

Review:

"Whitehead is making a strong case for a new name of his own: that of the best of the new generation of American novelists....The central plot line is reminiscent of William Gaddis's epic-length parodies of modern America's absurdities, but Whitehead prefers a leaner, meaner brand of prose." Boston Globe

About the Author

Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels The Intuitionist and John Henry Days, and a collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. He lives in Brooklyn.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Cheryl Klein, October 4, 2007 (view all comments by Cheryl Klein)
As tightly written as advertising copy, Apex is a satire of, well, advertising copy--specifically, the shiny-happy names given to new products and the ways in which marketing obliterates history and struggle. Whitehead is a sharp cultural observer and adept storyteller--who also happens to be very funny.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385507950
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Whitehead, Colson
Publisher:
Doubleday
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
City and town life
Subject:
Brand name products
Subject:
Names, geographical
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
March 21, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.24x5.82x.87 in. .80 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Apex Hides the Hurt: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385507950 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Fans of the extended junketeering riffs in John Henry Days, rejoice: Colson Whitehead is back with a short, satirical novel about a city — and a man — looking for a fresh start. Gone are the extended digressions and extravagant stylistic shifts of JHD. In Apex Hides the Hurt, Whitehead sends a nomenclature consultant to sleepy Winthrop, USA, and there our attention remains, upon a millionaire, a townie, and the mayor, caught between the competing realities of what is and what could be.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Following the novels The Intuitionist (1998) and John Henry Days (2001), and the nonfiction The Colossus of New York (2004), a paean to New York City, Whitehead disappoints in this intriguingly conceived but static tale of a small town with an identity crisis.A conspicuously unnamed African-American 'nomenclature consultant' has had big success in branding Apex bandages, which come in custom shades to match any skin tone. The 'hurt' of the Apex tag line is deviously resonant, poetically invoking banal scrapes and deep-seated, historical injustice; both types of wounds are festering in the town of Winthrop, which looks like a midwestern anytown but was founded by ex-slaves migrating during Reconstruction. Winthrop's town council, locked in a dispute over the town's name, have called in the protagonist to decide. Of the three council members, Mayor Regina Goode, who is black and a descendant of the town's founders, wants to revert to the town's original name, Freedom. 'Lucky' Aberdine, a white local boy turned software magnate, favors the professionally crafted New Prospera; and no-visible-means-of-support 'Uncle Albie' Winthrop (also white) sees no sense in changing the town's long-standing name — which, of course, happens to be his own.Quirky what's-in-a-name? — style pontificating follows, and it often feels as if Whitehead is just thinking out loud as the nomenclature consultant weighs the arguments, meets the citizens and worries over the mysterious 'misfortune' that has recently shaken his faith in his work (and even taken one of his toes). The Apex backstory spins out in a slow, retrospective treatment that competes with the town's travails. The bickering runs its course listlessly, and a last-minute discovery provides a convenient, bittersweet resolution. Whitehead's third novel attempts to confront a very large problem: How can a society progress while keeping a real sense of history — when a language for that history doesn't exist and progress itself seems bankrupt? But he doesn't give the problem enough room enough to develop, and none of his characters is rich enough to give it weight. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "There are some funny riffs on advertising here...as well as some wry commentary on how we talk about race nowadays. And of course, anything Whitehead writes is worth reading for the brilliance and originality of his phrasing. But the reason Whitehead's third novel is so moving and worthwhile is that he perfectly nails the tragic/comic nature of our smoothly packaged, hyper-verbal, and strangely stupid times." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Whitehead...continues his shrewd and playful inquiry into the American soul in a fresh and provocative tale....Whitehead archly explicates the philosophy of excess and the poetics of ludicrousness, and he incisively assesses the power inherent in the act of naming."
"Review" by , "In spare and evocative prose, Whitehead does Shakespeare one better: What's in a name, and how does our identity relate to our own sense of who we are?"
"Review" by , "Cultural insight, conceptual ingenuity and cutting-edge humor distinguish the third novel by a New York writer who never fails to engage and intrigue....While making no attempt at depth of characterization, Whitehead audaciously blurs the line between social realism and fabulist satire."
"Review" by , "[B]rims with the author's spiky humor and intelligence....Not a whole lot happens...but Whitehead's ruminations on the power of names, the fatuity of corporate life, advertising, race relations, and American aspirations are almost pleasure enough. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "Engaging and provocative....But ultimately, Apex falls short because its protagonist, engaging as he is, lacks heart."
"Review" by , "[A] playful, profane and cautionary tale about the dangers of valuing signs over substance, and its warning is timely....Whitehead's appealing mixture of allegory, provocation and hilarity will help prepare readers for the next pitch thrown their way."
"Review" by , "There are moments of real clarity...but too often they have to compete with the overweening feeling that Whitehead has Something to Say....Ultimately, we go a long way for a conclusion that reaches a little too neatly for the curtain."
"Review" by , "In a world crowded with big, bossy novels insisting on taking us to the ends of the earth, Colson Whitehead offers a short, quiet invitation to bum around town."
"Review" by , "Whitehead is making a strong case for a new name of his own: that of the best of the new generation of American novelists....The central plot line is reminiscent of William Gaddis's epic-length parodies of modern America's absurdities, but Whitehead prefers a leaner, meaner brand of prose."
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