When the citizens 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 consultan...more
on the fence between two and three stars.
For all the apparent unsubtlety of this novel - should the town at the center of the plot be called Freedom, Winthrop, or New Prospera? - there's are wonderful nuances of thought and expression in the prose. I love Whitehead's ruminations on the power of names, that they can make or unmake us, sell something, preserve something, obscure something, and we may not know which at the time. Similarly, the sub-plot about Apex band-aids is fascinating, not least of which because it contains r...more
After reading another book by this author, a book that left me with mixed feeling I thought I'd give him another go. This book isn't bad and it isn't good. Part of me feels like someone told the author to write a first person narrative with a self-deprecating character. So he did and slapped a story and some characters toge...more
This deceptively slim novel opens a world of ideas. The protagonist is an unnamed "nomenclature consultant" a professional paid for naming products who is hired to rename a town. He negotiates councilmember politics, the cultural and economic and racial history of the town, as well as his own reclusiveness following a strange physical accident. A qu...more
Colson Whitehead - (the novels; haven't read "The Colossus of New York")
So, I didn't totally get "The Intuitionist", but I kind of liked it anyway. The world of elevator inspectors didn't exactly thrill me, however, and the main character seemed disconnected from the world at large.
"John Henry Days" was...more
For those who haven't yet read it, and thus won't catch that reference, let me say:
Colson Whitehead has written a profound book about superficiality. It's at once about the modern problem of the branding of America and the abiding questions (with which philosophers have wrestled for centuries) about the relationship of language to reality. With regard to the latter, it probes the potentially corrosive effects of...more
While this is a story that expresses both affection and disdain for...more
For students searching for a paper topic: compare this book with Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.
I found it so incredibly interesting that the main character doesn’t have a name when his entire job involves naming things so that they will reac...more
There is a subtle arrogance that underlies the book that really bothers me. The main character is the only person in the novel with any insight or hint of depth. He's surrounded by a world of clueless drones who are all waiting for the main character's brilliance to save them. It makes me wonder if this is how the author sees himself?
Colson Whitehead is my favorite living writer, I'm jealous of his netherworldly writing talent, and I am biased towards anything he writes.
This book has a nameless narrator and some people are bothered by that. I wasn't, because I don't read hoping that every single stylistic choice has to be made with me in mind. Maybe you will be bothered. That is okay. Do no...more
The best place for me to start this review is with the novel’s location of Winthrop, which is a stand-in for America, and for which Apex is it’s symbol. In a way, the title really is a good summation of the meaning of this novel - Apex Hides the Hurt, or the significant pain, of part of the African American experience. Apex, the high point of A...more
Apex Hides the Hurt is about an unnamed nomenclature consultant, who as we learn as the novel progresses, is hired by a town because the town wanted to change its name. There are three possibilities: New Prospera, which is the suggestion by one of the business magnates in the town; Fre...more
What is in a name? Apparently a lot. Colson...more
In Colson Whitehead's satirical look at American identity politics, racial identity, and corporate values, every sentence shimmers. Known as a "writer's writer" for his acclaimed novels, John Henry Days and The Intuitionist, and his essay collection, The Colossus of New York (***1/2 Jan/Feb 2004), Whitehead again shows off his literary and intellectual vigor. In the line of Ralph Ellison, he brilliantly chronicles the exploits of a prosperous black man living in society's shadows. Critics agree,...more
It's a story about a guy who names things (Nomenclature Consultant) and it's written in this very showy, self-conscious style. The style suggests that the choice of nam...more
I knew almost instantly that it wasn't my kind of read. I could appreciate the quality of the writing. There are moments of real brightness. The style is nauseatingly intimate. The characters are vivid and consistent. Whitehead's observations about race relations and po...more
His first novel, The Intuitionist, concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and a winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Awa...more