There is a truth at the heart of this novel, although that doesn’t make it good. The truth is that names can reveal the hidden essence of a thing, but they can also conceal it. That is an insight the reader will arrive at long before Whitehead’s protagonist does (you may possibly be aware of it before opening the book). In the meantime he mopes around town riffing on the ephemera of small-town America and indulging his obsession with brand names. The tone is light, by turns over- and underwritten. Our hero seems as uninterested in his fate as we are.
Ouch. And while Publishers’ Weekly seems to agree with this take, Booklist gives the book a starred review.