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Apex Hides the Hurt

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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.

212 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

Colson Whitehead

33 books15.9k followers

COLSON WHITEHEAD is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of fiction and nonfiction, and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Harlem Shuffle is the first book in The Harlem Trilogy. The second, Crook Manifesto, will be published in 2023.

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5 stars
449 (14%)
4 stars
1,112 (36%)
3 stars
1,072 (35%)
2 stars
336 (10%)
1 star
87 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 399 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen.
213 reviews191 followers
November 7, 2012
a very clever book from a really sharp writer that i realized too late was a satire. i would have thought that names would have been enough for me and he does pursue some really interesting lines of thought but when all is said and done i would wish for more meat and less cucumber sandwich.

on the fence between two and three stars.
484 reviews30 followers
August 19, 2022
This is a very cleverly written book. The plot concerns a Nomanclature Consultant who is hired to come up with a name for a town. He finds out in his research that the town has a lot of past to get over or hide. I recommend this book to all.
Profile Image for Trish.
436 reviews25 followers
December 12, 2011
Company crossed with Paradise.

Our narrator is a nomenclature consultant. He tells companies what to call their new cars, drugs, floor polishes, and widgets. But of late, ever since "the incident," he's been avoiding work, people, and even hygiene in favor of hiding out at home. He's been roped back in for one last job -- arbitrating a naming dispute in what is now known as Winthrop and what might soon be rechristened New Prospera or might revert to being Freedom.

The town was founded by newly free former slaves and was dubbed Freedom. Then Sterling Winthrop came to town, bringing with him a bustling barbed wire business; Winthrop and the town's two founders, optimist Goode and pessimist/realist Field renamed the town Winthrop, a name that would reassure other white businessmen and settlers. Now a native son made good has brought his technology company back to town, and he wants a forward-thinking name that will help him recruit employees and other silicon prairie businesses -- the protagonist's former firm has come up with New Prospera.

But as in the town's earliest days, the three-member town council must vote to change the name. Tech baron Lucky wants New Prospera; the last batty scion of the Winthrop family wants to cling to tradition; and Mayor Regina Goode, a descendant of the first Goode, wants to return to Freedom. All have agreed to abide by the arbiter's decision and to let the name he chooses stand for at least one year.

During his stay in Winthrop the protagonist is wooed by all three camps. But his research reveals another option, the name proposed by Field: Struggle.

Interspersed with the consultant's current case are flashbacks to the source of his psychosomatic limp. It began with his greatest triumph, the revitalization of a moribund Band-Aid competitor. The idea: multicultural bandages in various hues to match various skin tones. The name: Apex. The slogan: Apex hides the hurt. But in his case, Apex hid the hurt all too well. He stubbed his toe and used the appropriate brown bandage. But then the toe became, somehow, accident prone, suffering repeated random stubbings. But Apex covered the problem, holding back the blood and pus and pain, until finally there was no choice but to amputate the toe.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for pattrice.
Author 6 books79 followers
November 18, 2017
The night after I finished this book, I dreamed: shuttlebus, shuttlebus, shuttlebus.

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 naming and (in my view, although even Whitehead might not have intended this bit) of our tendency to turn processes into things, perceiving people and places as nouns rather than verbs.

What's especially beautiful about the book is that all of this is done within an engaging and enjoyable narrative. I could easily imagine assigning it to college students, letting them have fun with the story, and then pressing them to discover how much deeper it goes.
Profile Image for Abigail.
4 reviews
March 31, 2009
I really wanted to like this book more. But, alas, it was the second book in a row that I read that had an unnamed, black, male author and I found the lack of committment to a character and the need to embrace the "everyman" trite and annoying. It made much more sense in this novel, due to the fact that the narrator is a nomenclature consultant by trade, but the inability to really connect with him made the prose feel plastic and hard to empathize with. Whitehead's brilliant, semantic insights made me smile often and compensated a great deal for the lack of a cohesive, satisfying narrative. I truly felt let down by the inability to link the beauty of his caustic, multi-faceted use of language with the story of his bumbling, afflicted protagonist. The title in and of itself is a magnificent commentary on the American attitude toward society and its ills and ne'er-do-wells, but I was left wanting.
Profile Image for Steffi.
976 reviews205 followers
December 31, 2017
Namen spielen bei Whitehead wohl eine besondere Rolle. In Zone One wurden wir mit einem Protagonisten konfrontiert, dessen wahren Namen wir nie erfahren und der von anderen Mark Spitz genannt wird. Hier hat die Hauptperson nicht einmal einen Spitznamen.

Dieser Berater für Namensgebung, der selbst also kurioserweise namenlos bleibt, wird in eine Kleinstadt geschickt, um zu helfen, einen neuen Namen für diese zu finden. Der Namenskonflikt scheint etwas mit der Geschichte des Ortes zu tun zu haben; einem Ort, der einst von freien Schwarzen gegründet und später von einem weißen Industriellen geprägt wurde.

Wie auch in Zone One wird hier aber, statt die Handlung voranzutreiben, in Rückblenden von früheren Aufträgen der Hauptfigur erzählt. Und auch bei diesen spielte die Hautfarbe eine wichtige Rolle. Da gibt es das Heftpflaster, das verschiedenen Hautnuancen gerecht wird und ein an Lego erinnerndes Spiel, in dem auch schwarze Figuren ergänzt werden. Das mit dem Heftpflaster fand ich sehr spannend. Gibt es so etwas? Und was sagt die Verwendung des Begriffs hautfarben über uns aus, gehen wir doch dabei immer von der Hautfarbe der "Weißen" aus? Bei Pflastern, Makeup, Strumpfhosen und und und.

Das ist zudem eine schöne Persiflage auf eine durch und durch von Marketingstrategien geprägte Gesellschaft und das vergebliche Bemühen, mit solchen Verfahren Dinge und Geschichten verschwinden zu lassen, denen man sich nicht stellen mag. Und welch fauliger Morast sich unter einem marketinggerechten neuen Namen verbergen kann, erfahren wir hier auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen.

Doch so kurz nach der Lektüre von ZONE ONE erkenne ich zu sehr das Strickmuster wieder (Rückblenden, Sprachspielereien, Gesellschaftskritik, Langsamkeit bei der Entwicklung des Plots), dass ich eine etwas schlechtere Bewertung gebe, als wenn ich diesen Roman als Erstes gelesen hätte.
Trotzdem bin ich auf Whiteheads andere Romane gespannt.
Profile Image for Nic.
238 reviews12 followers
July 28, 2009
Colson Whitehead is one of those writers who is so eloquent, whose prose is so elegant and clear, it makes my best efforts look like those of a hack.

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 quiet page-turner, this book has a startling depth, bringing up ideas of what can be named, the effect of name, and personal and cultural identity.

Whitehead attended Tin House the year I was there, about 12 months before an exerpt from Sag Harbor appeared in the New Yorker. He is a literary force to be admired and I am eager to delve into more of his award-winning novels which I found (unfortunately) shelved in the African-American section at my local Borders. Whitehead's work is literature - not genre fiction - and raises questions which ALL Americans should be pondering, regardless of race.
Profile Image for Catherine.
354 reviews
February 14, 2010
3.5 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 real truth - band-aids are made to "match" white skin, and it's a mystery why there aren't band-aids in every hue. Nevertheless, making band-aids in more colors is a band-aid on a larger problem, a symptom of a larger cultural whim, and Whitehead delves into that with relish, all the stories we tell ourselves to paper over the cracks.

Again, I was caught up in Whitehead's expression - his words are crisp and beautiful and arranged in ways that made me smile and often huff in appreciation. Not a world-changing novel, but a thoughtful one none-the-less.

Profile Image for Trin.
1,845 reviews567 followers
January 2, 2009
A nameless nomenclature consultant who’s had a bit of a nervous breakdown is hired by a small town to lend his expertise to the renaming of their community. This book didn’t really work for me. I found the prose very flat, and the way the plot progressed—interspersed with flashbacks exploring the reasons behind the protagonist’s meltdown—offered no surprises. I felt like—even though Whitehead clearly had some interesting ideas about community, race, identity, and history—I’d read this book before, or at least many very much like it. It wasn’t a bad book, but it struck me as very run-of-the-mill, and since it lacked any particularly dynamic characters or stylistic choices (the unnamed protagonist worked far less well for me as a device than the first person plural in Then We Came to the End, for example), the reader is ultimately not left with very much.
Profile Image for Dan Trefethen.
815 reviews27 followers
December 29, 2022
The third entry in the Complete Colson Whitehead Read that I'm participating in.

Whitehead is a word wizard. He loves to play with language, and he's brilliant at it. So much so, that I thought he overdid it in John Henry Days, being overly elaborate than what the story required.

Not here. He married his linguistic creativity to the story plot wonderfully. The unnamed protagonist is a nomenclature consultant, a person who is hired to create names for commercial brands. As usual, his protagonist is a Black person in a largely white world. A Black professional, in fact (third time in three books so far).

This taut book (210 pages) is a cutting satire on the whole advertising and branding business, at the same time being a devastating discussion of how white history is overlaid on Black history, obscuring the latter. Remember the old adage, “the winners write the histories”. Very seldom are Black people the winners.

It's also a cogent commentary on how we hide the hurtful things with temporary cover-ups, like “slapping a Band-aid on it”. The Apex of the title is a new type of bandage that you can match to your skin color, so that it actually does “hide the hurt” by blending in. But of course, hiding a problem doesn't solve it – it just festers (pun intended).

I could see this book being taught in business classes, to cast a jaundiced eye on the branding business but also to examine the situation of people of color in a largely white professional environment. Also, the propensity to cover up a problem, something that business seems to have a recurring problem with.
Profile Image for David.
667 reviews246 followers
September 10, 2011
I recommend the audio book. At under six hours, it seems ideal for a long day's drive or a week's commute. It hits the right sweet spot between too complex to follow and too simple to entertain. It treats consumer culture with the disrespect it deserves, but is not tiresome or hectoring. It is occasionally funny.

For students searching for a paper topic: compare this book with Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.
Profile Image for Dave.
529 reviews13 followers
April 7, 2010
Whitehead doesn't seem to be getting the respect he deserves. My first impressions were disbelief and smugness. A story about a nomenclature consultant? Sure. Ok. We're going to play with words, meanings, names, language, etc. That hasn't been done before. But as I continued with Apex Hides the Hurt I saw how Whitehead not only expands the many theoretical and abstract discussions about the meaning of language, he gives those discussions life. He puts meat on the abstract bones. And that's bold, not to mention difficult. I see Apex as a concluding volume to the trilogy of Whithead's novels (though I haven't read Sag Harbor yet--briefly, men and women dealing with varying degrees of their past and heritage in a seemingly meaningless present-day milieu. In short, the tropes Whitehead shifts in this book are brilliant, the writing funny and penetrating, and the overall message, though somewhat old hat, remade into something new.
Profile Image for Laila.
1,315 reviews47 followers
August 28, 2017
Colson Whitehead is so damn smart. Maybe too smart for me sometimes. But I want to read everything he's written, because he challenges me. A nameless "nomenclature consultant" with a limp who's had a bit of a mental breakdown is hired to help rebrand the ton of Winthrop. He is wooed by the three city council members: a wacky descendant of the original Winthrop, a descendant of one of the original black settlers, and a wealthy businessman who wants to bring jobs and rename it New Prospera. Our nameless hero drinks and muses and also has a very funny duel of sorts with the hotel's cleaning woman over the state of his room. We learn about what lead to his breakdown and leaving his old job, where he was previously very successful. It's a very clever, cerebral novel. I didn't love it, but I appreciated it.
57 reviews
December 30, 2020
Every time I read a book by Colton Whitehead, I need a dictionary to parse through his extraordinary vocabulary. This was no exception. This book was a rich commentary on capitalism, American race relations, and our collective failure to actually address problems in our country. I’d highly recommend, but also would recommend not reading it during the holidays/for relaxation since it’s a bit intense.
Profile Image for ambyr.
909 reviews79 followers
October 21, 2015
I once had a job very similar to that of "nomenclature consultant," so it's possible that most of my enjoyment comes from the well-deserved skewering of meetings that bear eerie resemblance to many I've sat through. But I think there's a lot to enjoy here even for those who have thankfully been spared the world of corporate image sculpting: sharp prose (with an ear for repetition that works particularly well in audio), musings on the nature of identity, and a good balance between satire and story. This is more a novella than a novel, and that's fine--any longer and it would have outstayed its welcome. As it is, it raises interesting questions without pretending to have answers to issues none of us can solve.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 3 books3,376 followers
July 28, 2013
This is such a fascinating premise, about a guy who is a professional namer of things, from medecine to cosmetics to towns. But Whitehead just didn't go far enough or do enough with it, and it all sort of fell flat and left me feeling very unsatisfied.
Profile Image for Jay Shelat.
243 reviews19 followers
May 26, 2021
Apex is pretty good. Like many critics, I agree that it’s not his best book. It’s a bit didactic & metaphorical, kinda lost in the weeds of its own playful prose. But it is Whitehead’s most intriguing plot and its ideas about race & history, esp in ch3, are so brilliant.
469 reviews
December 5, 2015
Very smart, very funny. A bit reminiscent of Pynchon, but far less annoying. I'm not so big on satire -- I find it cold -- but I enjoyed this very much.
649 reviews48 followers
February 21, 2021
A hilarious and scathing satire, this is the story of a town in want of a new name and the man in charge of selecting that name. There are three factions, all with their own wants/needs/desires and claims on history:
--First are the black families, the descendants of the first settlers of the land, free men and women, who want to return to the town's first name: Freedom.
--Second is the sole surviving member of the family Winthrop, who wants to keep using the old name for posterity. The original Winthrop had noted the town's excellent location on the river and was looking for a place to locate his barbed wire factory. Note the irony in Whitehead's choice of manufacturing - cheap wire fences creating boundaries, the opposite of freedom, in fact a type of capture. Keeping good things in and bad things out. This is industrialization, with wage laborers. The two black forefathers saw the benefit of having an incorporated town w/ the backing of a white guy (and they'd outnumber him on their new town council)...and thus the first re-naming of the town. (It begs the question: Would Freedom have truly represented the town at this point in its history? Have the black families been hidden under the name Winthrop? Has the hurt of slavery been hidden?)
--Third is the new upstart software outfit run by CEO Lucky Aberdeen, who hired our nameless (!) protagonist's firm (he's a nomenclature consultant) to come up with a name to fit the town's new forward looking, growing, positive, capitalistic outlook: New Prospera. (Of course, it is implied that the idea to outsource the naming of the town is Lucky's idea; why otherwise would you hire a stranger w/ no history or connection to re-name?) New Prospera is a break from history, a blank slate.

Clearly, names matter. A name should capture the essence of the thing. Or, should a name be forward looking? Do we become what our name states we are? Or are names too narrow, are they overcome by history and the fact that things are always changing?

In parallel we learn the history of our protagonist's rise to success in his career, culminating in the re-naming of a second-rate bandage to Apex and his unlikely mishap when he hides the hurt. Our protagonist is going through a crisis of identity. After success and recognition, he gradually becomes aware of his transgressions, his mistakes, his fakery, his superficiality. His damaged toe, the puss and fester covered over by a skin-toned bandage, is the physical manifestation of what he now sees as deception - by covering over what something truly is w/ a false name, by becoming invisible himself. To brand or re-brand is to determine what you want to look like to the outside world, which is more about what one wants to be seen as vs what one truly is. It creates a sort of double - what is vs what is wanted. What the town is covering up in its renaming is the history of slavery and treachery at the root of its founding.

This is also a book about marketing, doing whatever it takes to make something sell, consciously manipulating the consumer. As Whitehead states in an interview, "Apex isn't the only band-aid in the book."

Colson Whitehead is just amazing; I loved "John Henry Days" and "The Intuitionist." And in "Apex" he tackles this thing we're obsessed about, what something is called. He's brilliant.

In "Apex" he mentions whenever a character is white, which I loved - what a turning of the tables.
62 reviews
January 17, 2022
After reading a few different reviews for this book, it feels like I might be one of few readers who really GETS it. Such a brilliant mix of wordplay, corporate cynicism, satire, marketing absurdity, and, let's face it, historical fiction.

Ultimately this is a book about symbolism. Ostensibly, there is the symbolism held within an object's name, and an absurd exploration into the (presumably fictionalised) culture of nomenclature consulting. More intriguing though are all the other layers of symbols, metaphor and allusions woven throughout the book: the eponymous and perfectly named and marketed bandage that 'hides the hurt', while making it worse; the yin-and-yang of the town's founders; the racial commentary around the white businessman who elbows in and runs roughshod over a perfectly functional town; the visible decay of that same family's dynasty to the current time; the new wave of whitewashing in the form of an improbably-named software developer, and the hordes of hangers on accompanying him...I could go on, but suffice it to say the symbolism has more layers than a dozen spekkoeks.

Colson Whitehead is an absolutely brilliant author, and this unheralded gem is a must-read.
Profile Image for Christopher Berry.
234 reviews14 followers
August 17, 2019
Had this been the first book of Colson Whitehead’s that I had read, I may not have decided to read him again, but alas, this is not the first book of his that I had the pleasure of reading, with the first being Underground Railroad, which was amazing!

I find that Whitehead is an author who has a wide variety of subjects to write about, which a lot of authors do not, they stay in one area and do not branch out. I appreciate this of Whitehead very much! This book was very readable, and somewhat enjoyable

For me, I guess what it came down to was the fact that the story was a bit strange, and not necessarily what I would have looked for in a novel by Whitehead. I thought that the characters were engaging, and I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I also found the story to be a bit weird.

With all of this being said, I do not feel like this was the best Whitehead, while I am looking forward to reading his next offering, which is already on my TBR list!!
Profile Image for Julia.
2,034 reviews58 followers
January 3, 2019
A consultant is hired to choose a name for small town. The African Americans escaping slavery who first settled it named it Freedom. Then a family named Winthrop put a barb wire factory there and renamed the town after themselves. Now a wealthy software engineer who has moved back home and is trying to encourage others to move there wants a more forward- thinking town name. The consultant is well-known, well- paid and won an award for his naming ability. He named the bandage branded Apex, that is multicultural and will match your skin color or your money back but it doesn't hide the hurt.
I liked this, but it didn’t wow me like The Underground Railroad or Zone One, also by the author. I borrowed this from inter library loan.
349 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2020
What’s a nomenclature consultant? Everything is in the name, it seems. The story centers around the consultant, a man who has had career successes that had its zenith with Apex, a low-quality version of Bandaids, and now is hired to name or rename a town.

The town has history. Like all towns. Some of it is advertised and some of it is forgotten or buried. The consultant has very specific rules, and one is that the name selected must be implemented and must remain in place for at least one year.

At the same time he is visiting the town to make the final decision, groups of visitors come to town to become its latest residents. Names of things are everywhere, this of course being the obsession of the consultant. Street signs, franchises of major retailers, people. He has town leaders forcing themselves on him for his attention, to sway his opinion on the name. Do names cover things up or do they reveal information about the thing, about the person.

The consultant is African-American and he’s never embraced the industry he is a part of. He is proud of his individual accomplishments, but never seemed to be a part of the team. He is on this job solo. His confidence in his work doesn’t quite overshadow his lack o fconnection with almost everyone he comes across. He finds the hotel’s bartender to be a seething quiet man. There shared blackness doesn’t create any warm feelings. And the consultant is exceedingly hostile to the hotel’s housemaid, the woman he never allows in the room to clean. Do these service providers embarrass him in their blackness? These are two characters who go nameless in the book.

The novel’s premise and points sometimes feel as though each point of symbolism has to fall at our feet like an anvil, but I go back and forth thinking that it works a little or a lot here. I do keep thinking about the book.
Profile Image for Kathy.
109 reviews9 followers
November 9, 2020
Dit boek lijkt een vingeroefening. Iets wat Whitehead ertoe in staat stelde om latere meesterwerken als 'The Nickel Boys' en 'De ondergrondse spoorweg' te schrijven.
Het lukt me niet om meer dan een vage sympathie te voelen voor het naamloze hoofdpersonage. Die werkt als 'naamgeefspecialist' bij een bedrijf dat namen bedenkt voor nieuwe producten. Hij is een kei in zijn vak, maar geeft er na een 'ongelukje' (iets met een teen waar hij te lang en te enthousiast pleisters op kleefde ...) de brui aan.
Met heel veel goede wil, kun je dit boekwerkje lezen als een allegorie op 'de wereld is niets dan verpakking'. Omdat ik Colson Whithead sympathiek vind, heb ik het geprobeerd. Lukte maar half.
Profile Image for Molly  Imber.
84 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2021
Winthrop is a town at a crossroads. Poised at the precipice between their present and their past, this small town founded by freed people and remade in the image of the wealthy white man who renamed it after himself, is looking for yet another name, one that will usher in the new era of prosperity that the town elders hope will follow. Enter the nomenclature consultant, a man who makes his living by giving things their true and proper name. This unnamed individual arrives in Winthrop amidst his own personal 'misfortune', to discover that what's in a name can be much more than even a nomenclature consultant could have bargained for.
144 reviews
December 28, 2019
Subtle but powerful with witty observations that build on his theme throughout the book - Colson Whitehead invites you inside the world of his "nomenclature consultant" who is called upon to rename a town in order to inspire development and please the current inhabitants (who are split over the suggested options.)

Character development would only blur the concepts Whitehead offers - it is all about names - what they intend to mean, how they succeed, and their true costs.

A must read-again for me!

Profile Image for Scott.
232 reviews2 followers
April 11, 2021
I found both The Intuitionist and Zone One challenging at times. Even though my actual reading time was shorter for Apex, it felt harder to get through than the other two.

This is surprising given that I had to look up several words while reading The Intuitionist and way more than several while reading Zone One. I looked up only two or three words while reading Apex, and those were words for which I merely needed a refresher.

I still feel like this was a worthwhile read, but at times it felt more like an outline than a narrative.
Profile Image for Kim Williams.
209 reviews3 followers
November 14, 2022
A debate over renaming a town results in the recruitment of a nomenclature consultant to be the final arbiter of the dispute. Many philosophical questions arise as he learns more of the town's history and its founding by former slaves. Is a name meant to hide the true nature of a thing or person or reveal it? If you name a person or thing does confer ownership? This book hits all the right notes; at times laugh out loud funny, at times deep and contemplative, it is a short but rewarding read.
Profile Image for Michael.
248 reviews14 followers
April 10, 2019
Worth reading. Don't have much to say about it. Very brisk satire. Let the voice of the narrator guide you through the plot. Prose is excellent as always. Accessible but also conceptual to some degree. Amputated toe. History wrapped up in the naming if a town. I think Colson Whitehead took a crack at the genre of corporate satire and really gave it depth by adding the socio historical elements of where names come from. Turns out the apex can be the nadir.
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