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Apex Hides the Hurt

Apex Hides the Hurt, a blurry satire of American commercialism, may not mark the apex of Colson Whitehead’s career, but it brims with the author’s spiky humor and intelligence. The unnamed protagonist, a ”nomenclature consultant” famous for christening bandages that match all skin tones, is brought back from his mysterious early retirement to rename the small, nowheresville town of Winthrop. Not a whole lot happens as he meets with civic leaders and debates possible monikers, but Whitehead’s ruminations on the power of names, the fatuity of corporate life, advertising, race relations, and American aspirations are almost pleasure enough.

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