In Apex Hides the Hurt (2006), Colson Whitehead continues to demonstrate his novelistic brilliance with a very funny poke at capitalism, public framing, marketing, and their interrelations. With subtlety and wit, Whitehead discusses the impact of branding, names, and naming on our individual and collective psyches. As always, and reflective of the U.S. cultural reality, the entire brew is spiced with considerations of race and class and gender.
I get the sense that this is the stuff of Whiteheads consciousness. He’s walking around thinking about the stories we’re told to explain our places in the world—by everyone from our parents to novelists to marketing consultants (and the overlaps of them all)—and the stories we make up to do the same. That he’s able to share his sensibility, and in such clever, pleasing prose, is a boon to us all. Entertaining and thought-provoking, he could only improve by helping us understand where to go from where we are now. As evidenced by the book’s ending, which is less than satisfying, either he doesn’t know the way out of the cultural decline that he observes or he’s not willing to tell. My guess is the former.