A discussion board post for English 105, Introduction to Narrative, a freshman literature course taught by Gerry Canavan, written on 27 July 2006 at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; the instructor, noting the difficulty most of the class was having conceptualizing Postmodernism, suggested to the class that this post and "'Understanding' Postmodernism" might help clarify things (WARNING: Offensive Content)
Approaching Joe Wenderoth’s "Letters to Wendy’s"
by Matt Wallace
When reading Joe Wenderoth’s "Letters to Wendy’s," one must realize that each "letter" is independent of all the others and represents a coherent whole unto itself. Each letter is a daily snapshot of one small moment in the author’s stream of consciousness over the course of a year. Each "letter" is simply a recording of the thought, however banal or demented, passing through Wenderoth’s brain as he was sitting in a Wendy’s booth with a blank comment card in front of him. Nature abhors a vacuum, and comment cards were meant to have comments written on them...
Wenderoth offers these thought pictures with no real narrative purpose in mind. Any attempt to construct a coherent narrative from them will fail. Eliciting a response, positive and/or negative, from the reader appears to be the only purpose of each "letter."
The "letter" of "March 27, 1997," the homoerotic fantasy of a weekend orgy with Jesus as the guest of honor, is an excellent example [see below]. This "letter" worked on me in several aspects: its sheer blasphemy, its stimulation of an old memory, and its similarity to other literary work. No doubt you all noticed my quasi-orgasmic reaction!
I’m a strong atheist who was raised as a Methodist, a Protestant Christian; I lost whatever faith I had after completing Confirmation classes and declining to join the church. I also count myself as an anti-Christian. Even so, I try to be respectful of the right of others to believe as they wish and not to be a "nasty atheist," a stereotypical "God-hater." Even so, there are times when blasphemy is oh so good and all too necessary... (Please refer to "Seeing the Light; or, How I Became a Godless Heathen" in The Compleat Heretic's Autobiography.)
In 1977, when I was sixteen, I got to see Madalyn Murray O'Hair, "The Atheist," do her "nasty atheist" routine for a 2,500-plus audience of mostly Pentecostals, Fundamentalists, and Evangelicals. Among the many cutlets of red meat she threw out was the assertion that Jesus was a homosexual. I’m still amazed that she got out of the auditorium alive. Ah, good times... (Please refer to "Meeting Satan Herself" in The Compleat Heretic's Autobiography.)
You no doubt heard my suggestion to Gerry that Wenderoth has read the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was the Beat poet and is famous/infamous if only for his first major poem "Howl" published in 1956. Much of "Howl" is a celebration of Ginsberg’s homosexuality (not a popular position in ‘Fifties America) which is sacrilegiously and blasphemously expressed in religious and sacred terms. Hmm, Holy Orgy, Divine Debauchery...
When reading "Letters to Wendy’s," perhaps it would be helpful to keep in mind one of my mantras:
"EMBRACE THE MADNESS!"
The offensive "letter" in question (as provided by the instructor in a handout):
MARCH 27, 1997
We shall swing by the Anal Ranch, pick up the Lord, and
we shall have a Butt-Fuck Week-End. The Lord will have a
Biggie. Our faces will be dripping with hot cum and we
shall notice the way muscle is. The Lord will be our Butt-
Fuck Buddy and we shall be the Butt-Fuck Buddies of the
Lord. But never shall it spill, the Biggie of the Lord — not
Copyright © 2000 by Joe Wenderoth