05 November 2011
My Brief Thoughts on Stewart O'Nan, Last Night at the Lobster
Title:Last Night at the Lobster
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Publisher/Price: Penguin, $13.00
Genre: Novella, Literary Fiction
Where I got it: I bought it
I was intrigued by Last Night at the Lobster because I've been really into short books lately, and I also am interested in books that depict work cultures. I've never worked in a restaurant. Retail store? Yes. Coffee shop? Yes. Clerical environment? Yes. But never a restaurant.
I found the book to be a kind of charming little slice of life, that also hinted at the larger issues in our current economic world. It's about a Red Lobster, in the parking lot of a mall that is going out of business. Manny, the manager, is trying to get his staff to stick with him through their last shift as it starts to snow pretty hard outside, and they all just want to get out of there, knowing that this is the last day.
I think that O'Nan does a really nice job expressing the way that work becomes life and routine takes over, no matter the job setting. He perceptively captures the ambivalence in his characters as they react to their changing circumstances, both happy to be free of the days spent in a rotating film reel of crabby customers and check boxes on lists, and angry at being left out in the cold (literally and figuratively). I wasn't blown away by the book, but I wasn't really expecting to be. Actually, a little bit like going to a Red Lobster, it wasn't the greatest meal I've ever had, but I got what I expected, and maybe a little more. It also really made me crave cheddar biscuits, which are pretty darn tasty.