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From:     anon
Category: Books
Date:     21 September 2007
Time:     11:21 AM


Visiting Hours
Christopher WunderLee
Picaro Editions
ISBN: 978-0-6151-5743-6
$8.95, October 2007, 96 pages

It’s always tempting to review a collection of short stories by summarizing a few of the tales included 
or by comparing it to an author’s longer works of fiction. It makes for easy comprehension. As if to say 
to the potential reader, if you like or dislike the storyline of at least two of the stories, you’ll like or 
dislike this book. If you liked or disliked his or her previous novel, you’ll like or dislike this collection. 
But, it’s an insufficient tool. It ruins why we read collections and comparing a longer work of fiction with 
a short story is just outright unfair. With Christopher Wunderlee’s Visiting Hours, the temptation to 
reveal the plots of the stories included was especially difficult to avoid. They are so unconventional 
and differ from one another in such a significant fashion, sharing with a potential reader some of the 
characters, some of what they endure, would highlight just how impressive Visiting Hours is. 
Charming and eerie simultaneously, the collection is a creative feat with knockout prose. There are so 
many clever characters, unique and riveting, distinct and deplorable, any attempt to share with a 
potential reader any kind of description would not do them justice. They need to explored as the 
author intended. They need to be introduced by Wunderlee. 
It is a mistake to sketch them, but to say, this is a collection that has the Loch Ness Monster; an 
opportunistic couple, part Catholic, part capitalist; a man who spends every hour of every day trying to 
do as many things as he can to help bring about the end of the world; a successful artist who has no 
interest in producing artwork; a frightening man who randomly goes knocking on strangers’ doors; just 
to name a few. 
Similarly, the events that befall this strange menagerie of characters, are as unique and riveting, as 
distinct (and often deplorable), as they themselves. Again, a hint or two: the Loch Ness Monster is the 
impetus for an enormous struggle between interest groups; the opportunistic couple awakes one 
morning to find the devil’s face burnt into a pancake; the doomsday man decides to become a 
celebrity stalker; the successful artist becomes more and more successful (and more and more 
critically acclaimed) the less he produces; and the eerie doorknocker is, well, not doing it just for fun. 
And, comparing Visiting Hours to Wunderlee’s last book, The Loony, would do nothing to illuminate 
the collection’s worth. The Loony shares some attributes with Visiting Hours, especially since it is a 
novella, but here, in the collection, we have Wunderlee’s tendency to over-write reigned in, far less 
elaboration (in fact, some of the stories could have been better with a little more detail), and less 
fragmented prose, as if, in order to pen shorter pieces, he had to think more linearly and focus his 
attention away from his favorite words. 
Where the Loony seemed to enjoy twisting the reader for the sake of craft, Visiting Hours benefits 
from a restraint. Wunderlee does not make up words, dig up obscure terms or turn sentences into 
crossword puzzles in Visiting Hours. To be sure, there are moments of great prosody, of true craft, but 
he seems to have restrained his tendency to layer this on to the point of gluttony and instead, offer the 
reader manageable capsules of just what he can do with words, dialogue, tension. 
Visiting Hours is also funnier. Where the Loony had perverse humor, Visiting Hours has cackling wit 
and outright comedy. 
But beyond falling for both of the most tempting of propensities, it should be noted that in no way is 
Visiting Hours now comprehended. As a potential reader, you should simply remove ‘potential’ from 
your title and find out just how engrossed you will become.

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