CR Evening Book Club - A Realistic Restaurant Read
March 16, 2011
Stuart O’Nan’s short novel Last Night at the Lobster provides an honest look at the working class people who run a New England Red Lobster. It isn’t filled with madcap hi-jinks or over-the-top characters. But it is an authentic, occasionally funny story with surprising emotional weight.
At 146 pages, the novel is short, but doesn’t gloss over any part of the final day in the life of a chain restaurant. As manager, Manny DeLeon is charged with making sure the final evening goes smoothly despite a snow storm, less-than-focused employees, and an increasingly difficult life at home.
After the Lobster’s last day, Manny will be transferred to a nearby Olive Garden, but he’s still trying to figure out which employees to take with him. He will be an assistant manager at his new job, which he’s not pleased about considering how hard he works. He recently found out his girlfriend is pregnant, and he’s still trying to deal with the feelings he has for the ex-girlfriend he still works with.
O’Nan’s characters feel real and readers empathize with Manny and the choices he has to make. His employees don’t mistreat customers for fun. There’s no spitting in the food. Manny and his employees care about their jobs, even if no one notices. Despite limiting the story to one day, O’Nan takes readers into every employee’s life. He provides insights as to why they behave like they do and how they maneuver from one day to the next without breaking their spirit.
Entertainment Weekly named Last Night at the Lobster one of its Best Books of 2007.
The CR Evening Book Club discussed Last Night at the Lobster on February 23rd. March’s book is Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. To obtain a copy of Await Your Reply and to join the group, call 816-525-9924 and ask for Leigh.
Colbern Road Branch