"Apex: Hides the Hurt" is a brilliant contemporary satire on the world of marketing, in which memory, race and history are conveniently subsumed into the cover-up of corporate branding. A 'nomenclature consultant' - an expert on naming the most disparate things, from antidepressants to cars, and spoons to plasters - is summoned by the city ...
"Apex: Hides the Hurt" is a brilliant contemporary satire on the world of marketing, in which memory, race and history are conveniently subsumed into the cover-up of corporate branding. A 'nomenclature consultant' - an expert on naming the most disparate things, from antidepressants to cars, and spoons to plasters - is summoned by the city authorities of Winthrop to decide on its new name. Lucky Aberdee, the millionaire software entrepreneur, wants the name changed to something that will reflect the town's capitalist aspirations; Albie Winthrop, eccentric son of the town's aristocracy, thinks Winthrop is a perfectly appropriate name and can't imagine what the fuss is all about; and Regina Goode, the Mayor, a descendant of the black settlers who founded the town, has her own secret agenda for what the name should be. What name will our limping word-catcher finally choose, thus deciding the future of the whole town and population?
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-01-30 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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