cover image Letters to Wendy's

Letters to Wendy's

Joe Wenderoth. Wave Books, $14 (300pp) ISBN 978-0-9703672-0-4

What kind of person is inspired by a fast-food restaurant? If this new book is any indication, it's one who is by turns worshipful, disturbing and just plain weird. Conceived as a series of comment cards to a local Wendy's, this unconventional fiction chronicles the life (or lack thereof) of an unnamed narrator who spends his days drinking oversize sodas and contemplating the meaning of the fast-food icon. In his more lucid moments, the narrator imagines Wendy's as a cradle-to-grave institution, supplying IV nourishment for a person's last days in the form of ""liquid fries."" He also posits that Wendy's would serve well as a site for state-sponsored executions, providing both the correct quality of light and an abundance of refreshments. He's just as likely, however, to devolve into soft-porn daydreams involving the counter help and prepackaged foods. About the narrator himself, we learn very little--no name, no profession, no home address: just an Everyman as fast-food customer. In its best moments, the book delivers some insights into the social mores of people thrown together in a public place of business, people who share the same space and general eating habits but are unwilling to share much else. In short snippets, the narrative can be intriguing; excerpts have appeared on the Web site But there's no plot to speak of, and spending time with this voyeuristic stranger quickly grows both creepy and tedious. (Dec. 15) FYI: Letters to Wendy's is Verse Press's debut publication. The press will devote itself to releasing innovative works in all genres by poets (Wenderoth is the author of two poetry collections, Disfortune and It Is if I Speak).