Friday, March 9, 2007

Apex Hides the Hurt - kookiejar's review

I think Colson Whitehead might be some sort of magician.

I was reading "Apex Hides the Hurt" and I thought the first part of it was all right. Nothing very exciting about a man whose job it is to create brand names for household objects. I didn't even think he was very good at his job because his major triumph was naming a shoddy, discount adhesive first aid strip Apex. I wouldn't buy a band-aid called Apex. It sounds like a telecommunication firm.

The story fell apart a little in the second part of the novel. Our hero is asked to rename the town of Winthrop to entice more people to live there. It's a quirky little town with a dark, racially charged past, but he wants to name it New Prospera. I wouldn't want to live in a town called New Prospera. It sounds like a new-age hippie commune.

I thought this was a book about consumerism, materialism and the importance we place on the outward appearance to things (and people). It is about all those things and much more.

In the third, and last, section of the book I realized that the author had been playing a game with me and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I can't reveal here what the trick was, but it changed the whole book for me. When I realized what the author had done, I wanted to start reading the book all over again to figure out how he did it. Whitehead is a very clever author, to keep me in the dark for so long.

I actually was not going to recommend this book, until I realized what a clever thing the author had done, and now I say, everyone should read it. The epiphany was worth the wait for me.

"You call something by a name, you fix it in place. A thing or a person, it didn't matter - the name you gave it allowed you to draw a bead, take aim, shoot. But there was a flip side of calling something by the name you gave it - and that was wanting to be called by the name that you gave to yourself. What is the name that will give me the dignity and respect that is my right? The key that will unlock the world."


Loose Baggy Monster said...

oooh, this one is on my list and now I'm sorely tempted to pick this one up next! I've been in a bit of a book slump lately for some reason (I'm blaming the upcoming Ides of March) but you make this sound intriguing! Perhaps this book might "accidentally" jump into my arms the next time I'm at the library (I "hate" it when they do that...)

kookiejar said...


Did you finish 'Half of a Yellow Sun' yet, Sarah? Last we heard, you were 50 pages from the end. I've hit a stall and am still only 50 pages in. Frackin' ambushes. grrr

Loose Baggy Monster said...

Finishing the book wasn't a problem, apparently, but finishing the review was. But huzzah! It's here, I've posted it, and now I'm off to get attacked by other books--I might need those Apex band-aids when I'm done!

Amy said...

Oh I want to read this one too.

My list is growing!

Pour of Tor said...

You totally snagged me too, kookiejar! I am not sure when I will get to it, but I am off to order this from the library now.

kookiejar said...

Can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it.

3M said...


I think I might read this one now, too. I'll at least think about it.

Do you by chance watch Battlestar Galactica? Frackin' cylons!

kookiejar said...

I don't watch 'BG', Michelle, but my husband does and I hear it in the background while I'm washing dishes. Somehow 'frackin' has attached itself to my vocabulary.