Book Review: Last Night at the Lobster
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.
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.)