Apex Hides the Hurt
By Colson Whitehead
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385507950, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 21, 2006
List Price: $22.95*
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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 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 consultant. If you want just the right name for your new product, whether it be 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.
Lucky Aberdeen, the millionaire software pioneer and hometown-boy-made-good, wants the name changed to something that will reflect the town’s capitalist aspirations, attracting new businesses and revitalizing the community. Who could argue with that?
Albie Winthrop, beloved son of the town’s aristocracy, thinks Winthrop is a perfectly good name, and can’t imagine what the fuss is about.
Regina Goode, the mayor, is a descendent of the black settlers who founded the town, and has her own secret agenda for what the name should be.
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.
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.