Book Review: Last Night at the Lobster

Author: Stewart O’Nan

Publisher: Penguin, 2008

Format: Audiobook, Narrated by Jonathan Davis

My Rating: A

Summary (from the publisher):

The Red Lobster perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall hasn’t been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift with a near-mutinous staff. All the while, he’s wondering how to handle the waitress he’s still in love with, what to do about his pregnant girlfriend, and where to find the present that will make everything better.

My Thoughts:

JoAnn from Lakeside Musing “talked me into” reading this book. She started reading one Stewart O’Nan novel and couldn’t stop herself from reading three more. She highly recommended the author and suggested Last Night at the Lobster was a good place to start. I did exactly what she said. I discovered an audiobook version at the library and set out to see what JoAnn was raving about. (JoAnn’s review of this book is here.)

Stewart O’Nan took me right into the heart of this Red Lobster.  It was it’s last night of operation, which also happened to be the night of an extreme snow storm. He helped me see the restaurant from a variety of angles: the kitchen, the dining room, the back door where the smokers hang out, the storage closet, the outside parking lot and even it’s place next to the shopping mall.

What I liked best in Last Night at the Lobster were the people. The story is told through the eyes of Manny, the restaurant’s manager. I actually felt very sympathetic to him. He cared so much about doing all the right things for the good of the restaurant – even on the very last day. Through Manny I met the crazy kitchen staff as well as the waitresses and busboys. They were quite a contrast to the  rude and demanding customers.

Manny was fighting a losing battle. He wanted to end the night on a high note with the restaurant looking good, but things were stacked against him. Some of the employees abandoned him, one in a very cruel way. The snow storm kept customers away, making his numbers look even worse. In spite of all that, Manny continued to do the right – the thing he believed a good restaurant manager should and would do.

Stewart O’Nan was spot-on in his assessment of people who work in the service industry. He has obviously been around enough restaurants to understand all the people involved, including the customers. His dialogue was very realistic.

JoAnn, you were right about Stewart O’Nan and this book. I can’t wait to start my next one.

The narrator for this audiobook was Jonathan Davis. He did a superb job with all the accents in this dialogue-heavy novel. I’ve added him to my list of narrators to watch for.

Check your local library and/or your local bookstore for a copy of this book. Last Night at the Lobster is also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

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11 Responses to Book Review: Last Night at the Lobster

  1. I really love Stewart O’Nan’s books. Have you read Emily Alone?

  2. Beth F says:

    I read my first O’Nan book this year (Emily, Alone) and fell in love. Maybe I’ll read this next.

  3. I really like Davis’s narrations. I’ve heard of O’Nan, but I’m not familiar with this book at all. It sounds like one I could relate to.

  4. I’ve heard many good things about this book. I only read one O’Nan so far but I should really go back to him!

  5. Barbara says:

    I have O’Nan on my list already but haven’t been to the library in ages since I’m overwhelmed with TBRs.

  6. Ti says:

    I haven’t read any books by this author, but I managed to snag his new one from Net Galley. If I enjoy that one, I will definitely get this one.

  7. JoAnn says:

    Margot, your post has just made my day! I am so happy you enjoyed this book. Stewart O’Nan is definitely my author ‘discovery’ of the year. My book club discussed this book last week and all but one member loved it. I’m looking forward to reading his new novel next month.

  8. Staci says:

    Loved your review of this one, Margot! I think it’s funny that we were both influenced by JoAnn enough to pick up O’Nan!! I checked out Wish You Were Here…will be my next book after the one I’m reading right now. I’m hoping to have the same experience as you did!! 😀

  9. TheBookGirl says:

    I love reading books that offer a peek behind the scenes in the restaurant/food service industry. Great review of this one Margot — you have made me want to see if my library has a copy. O’Nan is an author new to me.

  10. Tami says:

    Funny how books affect people differently. I thought this sounded so interesting, but it just didn’t do it for me. Can’t even tell you why not, so maybe it was just me. Glad to hear you enjoyed it – maybe I’ll give this author another try.

  11. I read this book (from the library, on paper ;>) — thought the author was definitely one to follow! I’ve read one of his other books and have him on my “library” list — the series with Emily is quite different but also excellent.

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