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Literary landscapes: novels of disparate places, themes and souls.

* Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead Doubleday, March 2006 $22.95, ISBN 0-385-50795-X

Some readers may wonder: What "in the world is a nomenclature consultant?" Would the average conventional reader accept such a person as the protagonist of a piece of fiction? Anybody who says that the art of naming disparate commercial products is a normal profession is lying. Lying.

Again, Whitehead assertively goes where no man (or writer) has gone before--while brilliantly using a harsh, cynical protagonist as a culture critic. The essence of great writing and exceptional fiction is intellect, skill, imagination and originality. Whitehead quietly preens himself on all of these characteristics by using the consultant as his underlying theme. It's clear that the subject is a bit (very) unusual.

Whitehead storms our conscious and subconscious minds with delightful prose that depicts the essence and the tragedy of tradition, identity, culture and brand-driven commercialism. Whitehead uses a small town called Winthrop and a pompous lead character to remind contemporaries of the ridiculous lengths to which our culture will go to protect tradition, names and titles that are meaningless. The book forces readers to question how our society globalizes names and how corporations manipulate "branding" for marketing purposes.

Whitehead is swiftly paving his way as a master at his craft--and a master of original concepts. This witty, linguistic powerhouse, who brought the world The Intuitionist (1998), John Henry Days (2001) and The Colossus of New York (2003), tops the list as one of the most humorous and dangerously unpredictable writers of our time.

--Reviewed by Christopher Jack Hill Christopher Jack Hill is coauthor of Who's Got the Power, scheduled for release from Treasure House/Destiny Image later this year. He is also an M.A student in writing at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
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Title Annotation:Apex Hides the Hurt
Author:Hill, Christopher Jack
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 1, 2006
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