Apex Hides the Hurt (132-212)

The town gets renamed Struggle?

It?s honest. Too honest. It gets the hairs up on the back of my neck. I suddenly realize I?m not comfortable with all that honesty, perhaps because it?s such a rare occurrence.

This novel brings to mind how many times I?ve cringed at names while searching for a place to live. Having moved 13 times in my life, I?ve had visceral reactions to places like Newark (too often pronounced Nork), landing instead on the nearby Lincoln Street in Cranford. Perhaps choosing a house on that street name was my throwback to growing up with Harding, Kennedy, and Madison Avenues in the small town of Angola, NY.?(There, presidential power was?a delusion of granduer.) On the other hand, what 28th Street lacked in character was compensated for by the neighborhood of Murray Hill in a city with a choice of names, Manhattan, New York (never mistaken for Nork), The Big Apple, THE city.

According to our narrating nomenclature consultant:

What he had given to all those things had been the right name, but never the true name. For things had true natures, and they hid behind false names, beneath the skin we gave them. (182)

I wonder what, in honesty, I would name the places I?ve been? Angola. Social Cesspool, Backward Bend. I say this with mildly playful and wildly arrogant confidence because, well, the demographic there is hardly diverse. Point Breeze on Lake Erie was often referred to as Point Sleeze on Lake Dreary. The town is listed on epodunk.com. New York City, on the other hand, is too big. Too many things must be encompassed by just one name. I could never come close. (In fact, I just thought of another I hadn?t listed above, The City that Never Sleeps.)

Oddly, Struggle could be the name of any village, town, city, or country. Its the one word that represents every person?s internal workings and every relationship between people within its boundaries. It is the past, present and future. In essence, the name couldn?t be more perfect.

The problem is that people don?t want perfection or honesty. As our narrator reminds us:

Everything is bright and mysterious until you know what it is called and then the light goes out of it? Once we knew the name of it, how could we ever come to love it? (182)

Honesty doesn?t provide hope for moving beyond struggle. It isn?t pretty or imaginative and yet it is the quagmire we all must face. The anti-apex.


  1. I like this exercise of naming your home town. I am from Berlin so I would call it Retirementville, or Deathberg, possibly GoodLuckEscapingFromThisJointAndIfYouMoveHereYourInsaneVille.

    Hiding behind false names?Referring to the quote you pulled makes me think about our own personal names and their relation to meaning. My name, Michael, comes from as Arch Angel or something. Or something should show you how religious I am. My daemon self hides behind my Christian naming (or some devout Catholics would say so). You are hiding behind the name of my sister.

    Knowing the name of something spoils our interest in it. This kind of goes with the end of the novel when Struggle is revealed. All the whispering and the ?there goes that guy? that our main character was experiencing surely ends with the drop of this bomb. There is nothing bight and mysterious left about our guy nor the anticipation of the name in waiting.

  2. I think I want to jump on the name-your-hometown bandwagon. I didn’t actually grow up in Woodstock, but about 5 minutes away from it and I always say that’s where I’m from if people ask so I think I have a right to throw my idea in here… TheWoodstockFestivalof’69wasn’theresopleasegohome. Or Driedup/BurntoutHippieville. Okay, I think I’m done venting now.

    It’s interesting that most of us had such an adverse reaction to the new name. I agree that it definitely sums up pretty much any town in the U.S., or even the world for that matter, but it seems so plain and negative. However, it seems that life has a tendency to suck sometimes (maybe this is just my negative, grumpy attitude because of finals and papers?) so the name definitely leaves little to the imagination and gives no false promises. As we were reading the novel I kept thinking of this renaming situation that occurred near me. There was a road that lead to the IBM site in Kingston named Neighborhood Rd., but some people decided it didn’t sound professional enough for the area and what IBM stood/stands for so it was changed to Enterprise Dr. I find it so intriguing that we infer so much about a name that it needs to be changed to “accurately” reflect whatever it is we’re trying to represent or get across.

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