Joe Wenderoth’s “Letters to Wendy’s”

I’ve recently picked up Letters to Wendy’s for what must be the third of fourth time. When I first found this book, I ordered it from one of the libraries in my college’s library system. When I went to the pick up the book, the person behind the counter was reading it. She’d liked it so much she had put in a recall for it — before I’d even picked it up! The library’s somewhat bizarre "the second person has precedence" system cut my checkout time down to two weeks and nearly forced a recall war between the two of us. It’s that good.

Letters to Wendy’s is written by Joe Wenderoth and is published by Verse Press (a small press publisher out of Northampton, Massachusetts). It’s pitched as a collection of prose poetry written on Wendy’s [1] comment cards: one-a-day for a little more than a year.

The pieces are often descriptions and reflections on Wenderoth’s experiences dining at Wendy’s. Here’s one example:

November 15, 1996

A beautiful women with a Biggie. Nothing else — just a Biggie. She sat alone; she seemed like she was waiting for someone. What lucky soul could make a beautiful woman with a Biggie wait? Who has that kind of power? What person would a beautiful woman with a Biggie find attractive? Only one answer made sense to me: another beautiful woman with a Biggie.

Another good example in the same vein is this:

February 3, 1997

I tried to order a Biggie coffee today. It couldn’t be done. I felt sort of childish asking, like my request betrayed my ignorance in the matter. Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth; I know — believe me I do — how wrong it is to have a coffee of that size (I know too that I would never have gone through with it). It’s sort of scary, but the truth is: I don’t know why I asked.

Other pieces are more reflections on life that span the gamit from profound to bizarre to mundane to obscene — and any combinations of the above. These reflections tend to be prompted by or refelecting on Wendy’s in some way. A good example would be:

May 20, 1997

I’d like to have my muscles removed. Resume the inanimate. Wendy’s allows me to extract myself from the retarded narcissism of animal thrivings. I sit still in a warm booth and get thought. All movement wants, in the end is stillness. The animate is just the failure of movement to get what it wants — one sleeping body. The road to heaven is paved with meat: the road to meat is not paved at all.

My personal favorites are the ones that are actually suggestions. Some of his suggestions I like more than others. Perhaps my favorite suggestion is this one:

December 26, 1996

A sort of hell-garden would be useful. Often, after a meal, I feel inclined to lay myself out in the elements, as though dead, to be picked apart by birds and dogs. It is surprisingly difficult to find a suitable space. The garden I have in mind would be a simple concrete square right off the dining room, and would offer several boulders which one could drape oneself over and feel properly exposed.

Since I read this two years ago, I’ve found myself gorged with food and wishing for a hell-garden on several occasions.

Many of the pieces are quite raunchy and many make me laugh out loud. Most can communicate to the endeavoring readers one more than one level. Of course, there’s no reason to read more into it than you want. The book is off-the-wall and a lot of fun. I recommend it highly. You can grab it, in a number of forms at the links below.

[1] For those who are fortunate enough to be out of the loop, Wendy’s is a fast food restaurant not unlike McDonald’s. As far as I can tell, they’re famous for square hamburgers and their somewhat ridiculously named Biggie® drinks and fries and a thick drink they serve called a Frosty.

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