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Eating at the humble Red Lobster won t be quite the same after reading this bittersweet ode to the service industry.It s a grey, snowy Saturday a week or so before Christmas, and the Red Lobster near a rundown New England mall is about to close down for good Sales just aren t up to scratch, and all the staff has been let go, except for five, who are being offered jobs at an Olive Garden a few towns over.In fact, today is the restaurant s final day, and it s up to hard working manager Manny De Eating at the humble Red Lobster won t be quite the same after reading this bittersweet ode to the service industry.It s a grey, snowy Saturday a week or so before Christmas, and the Red Lobster near a rundown New England mall is about to close down for good Sales just aren t up to scratch, and all the staff has been let go, except for five, who are being offered jobs at an Olive Garden a few towns over.In fact, today is the restaurant s final day, and it s up to hard working manager Manny DeLeon to oversee this final shift Complications ensue many embittered let go staff haven t shown up the forecast calls for a big snowstorm, and the mall plow is nowhere to be seen oh yeah, and there s Jacquie, the waitress Manny s had an affair with, to deal with she s got a new boyfriend, while Manny s own girlfriend is currently pregnant.And let s not forget the workplace grudges, the bartender who might be siphoning off booze, and the parade of diners who barge through the doors for lunch a huge retirement party, two young moms, one with a child from hell, people trying to pawn off expired coupons.Writer Stewart O Nan s gift is being able to describe all this in details that are vivid, honest and entertaining I never knew how interested I would be in the workings of a chain restaurant before reading this book Manny, still smarting from the end of the affair as well as the death of his abuelita grandmother is a perfectly ordinary yet fascinating figure trying to get by financially, unhappy with his personal situation yet unsure what to do, Manny is the book s moral centre, and I loved being in his mind, even just for 150 pages It s the sort of book that will make you re examine your own daily routines, the little things that matter, that show us what we re made of I have to admit that I didn t think O Nan would be able to offer much of a climax, but he did, and it s one that s beautifully, subtly set up throughout the book A couple of years ago, I read O Nan s novel about the final days of F Scott Fitzgerald it was a beautiful book, sad and true I m sure I ll readof his work But this book, although brief, will linger in my mind for a while 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 Stewart O Nan has been called the bard of the working class, and Last Night at the Lobster is one of his most acclaimed works to date I loved this little jewel of a book Stewart O Nan manages to write a 160 page book about the employees at a Red Lobster during the span of their last working day and make it intriguing I kept waiting for something..anything to happen and yet when it didn t, that was OK Yep, he s that good. A little gem of a novel from a writer I hadn t read before It s told from the perspective of Manny, a manager from within the eponymous restaurant chain, whose branch in a New England town is being closed down by Head Office He s a conscientious employee and a decent guy, but is also someone with his own personal problems On his last day he has to cope with difficult customers, dispirited and resentful staff, and a major snowstorm There isn t really a plot, just the events of the restaurant A little gem of a novel from a writer I hadn t read before It s told from the perspective of Manny, a manager from within the eponymous restaurant chain, whose branch in a New England town is being closed down by Head Office He s a conscientious employee and a decent guy, but is also someone with his own personal problems On his last day he has to cope with difficult customers, dispirited and resentful staff, and a major snowstorm There isn t really a plot, just the events of the restaurant s last day, but where the novel shines is in the interaction of the characters, ordinary people each with their good and bad points There s also the particular atmosphere that arises when something comes to an end, when routines carried on for years are enacted for the last time, and when a group of people who have been thrown together go their separate ways The book has a really authentic feel A novel about ordinary people who are faced with change, and who deal with it and move on with their lives Good luck Manny Manny De Leon is spending a double shift working his last day as the manager of a Red Lobster The bosses at the corporate headquarters have decided to close this older restaurant Lacking the holiday spirit, the bosses picked December 20th as the last day of operation.The book follows Manny, hour by hour, in the restaurant while a blizzard dumps snow on the parking lot outside Some of his crew show up in spite of the weather because they have a sense of loyalty toward Manny Manny is kind and Manny De Leon is spending a double shift working his last day as the manager of a Red Lobster The bosses at the corporate headquarters have decided to close this older restaurant Lacking the holiday spirit, the bosses picked December 20th as the last day of operation.The book follows Manny, hour by hour, in the restaurant while a blizzard dumps snow on the parking lot outside Some of his crew show up in spite of the weather because they have a sense of loyalty toward Manny Manny is kind and decent to his employees, and the restaurant is a bit of a home for him He works hard, pitches in to keep everything running smoothly, and keeps the crew s spirits up He s one of many unrecognized workers who shows up, does their job well, has pride in their work, but never gets any glory As the hours tick down to closing time, we also find out the complications in Manny s personal life There is also resentment by some of the crew members who will not be hired by another restaurant in the chain Last Night at the Lobster is a low key novella about the working class The book will make the reader appreciate the people who come to work with a smile on their face day after day Even though it s a quiet book, it kept my interest since I cared about the characters and the writing was excellent I read this novel on a balmy March day but the setting is so convincing that I looked out the window several times to see if it was snowing In Last Night at the Lobster, O Nan creates a pitch perfect world a Red Lobster restaurant before it closes for good He treats the restaurant and the staff with respect, avoiding the easy impulse to satirize Every page glimmers with truth Reading this novel makes me realize how rarely that happens in literature. Because I live in my own little world inside my head, complete with pugs dressed as butlers and rainbows made of Laffy Taffy, it was a long time before I became aware of Stewart O Nan Partially, I suppose, this is due to the fact that O Nan s books do not draw undue attention to themselves He is not an elegant prose stylist he does not construct elaborate plots that bend time and space and then loop back again and he does not fetishize the typical professions found in most novels television Because I live in my own little world inside my head, complete with pugs dressed as butlers and rainbows made of Laffy Taffy, it was a long time before I became aware of Stewart O Nan Partially, I suppose, this is due to the fact that O Nan s books do not draw undue attention to themselves He is not an elegant prose stylist he does not construct elaborate plots that bend time and space and then loop back again and he does not fetishize the typical professions found in most novels television series movies Instead, O Nan produces sparely written books that subtly mine the realities of the actual human condition His characters aren t rich, or powerful, or imbued with remarkable gifts They are just muddling, middling human beings, like the ones you see every day, like the one you might be yourself Of course, this doesn t provide much of an escape, and it might leave you a little befuddled by the end O Nan, you see, isn t following the typical three act structure that frames most novels or screenplays Sure, there is often a genre hook in his fiction a murder, a kidnapping but that s never the focus Readers acclimatized by modern storytelling techniques might be a bit puzzled You finish one of his novels and think That s itThat s something you need to know going in to an O Nan novel that no matter what the book jacket says it s about, it s not about the plot There is no action there is only people reacting to action, which most often takes place off center stage My love affair with Stewart O Nan began with Last Night At the Lobster It was a fortuitous meeting Had O Nan chosen to set his novel at a Chipotle, I probably would have lived and died without ever cracking one of his books As it is, however, he chose the Red Lobster, and the Red Lobster and I have a history One of the great middle class pleasures of my life is the Admiral s Feast, which can feed me for close to a week, depending on how many biscuits I can slip into my pocket without the waiter noticing Last Night at the Lobster is about as the title strongly hints the last day of a Red Lobster that is being closed Its main character is Manny, a pot smoking manager who is really serious about doing a good job He reminds me of that Martin Luther King, Jr quote about how if you are called to be a streetsweeper, you should sweep as Michaelangelo painted or Beethoven wrote music Manny treats his job as though it were the most important thing in the world he gives it the care of a master craftsman, with an eye to the smallest details It is something that is both sad and noble The Lobster s final day is snowy and treacherous Manny has to deal with the fact that many of his employees at least the ones who aren t leaving with him to go to the Olive Garden in the hands of anyone but O Nan, I would ve assumed this to be a snide joke directed at Middle America O Nan, however, has such empathy, that the thought never crossed my mind haven t come in He is also trying to sort out his relationship with Jacquie, a waitress and past lover who has moved on with her life Manny still loves Jacquie, but he has a pregnant girlfriend, Deena, back home This is a slim book, an epic in miniature It is a minutely detailed reconstruction of a day The tasks, mundane as they are, are inflated to heroic proportions There is Manny s courageous attempts to clear the sidewalks with a stubborn snow blower there is Manny s shuttle diplomacy as he keeps peace with a tempestuous cook, bickering waitresses, and annoying customers there is Manny s Homeric trek across a treacherous parking lot to reach a shopping mall, where he then tries to find a gift for Deena All of this is just cover for O Nan to explore humble lives given meaning through love Despite the title and subject, this is not an ironic book And I say this as a person who actually purchased this book a bit tongue in cheek I mean, it s about Red Lobster It s the hillbilly Delmonico s O Nan never makes fun of the plight of these lower middle class service providers There is no false nobility or artificial inflation of the working man and there is also no condescension or patronization He treats his characters, simply, as humans, and O Nan has a fine eye for people Manny s struggle to keep the Red Lobster open until closing time may seem like a small thing to us, but for him, it is akin to blowing up the Death Star or throwing the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom We don t all get to save the world, or even lives most of us do the mundane to get a paycheck, but we try to do it well, because there is some honor there, in a job well done, whatever that job may be This is a short, quick, gratifying read O Nan is a propulsive storyteller He writes in simple, clear prose that is blunt and to the point I m quite impressed with the details he can limn with so few pages and so few adjectives That said, there s nothing poetic or elegant in the words I can t remember a single line from the book, or a single profound thought The profundity is in the story itself It s a subtle point is worth looking for This isn t a novel that helps you escape from your life it is a novel that helps you relate to life The only lingering question I have is this what caused this Red Lobster to close Those places are always packed Always The most dangerous place I ve been is a Red Lobster parking lot during Lent Find all of my reviews at little bitty book is about exactly what the title states the goings on with the staff of the localNot to be confused withAs they work the last shift before their failing location is permanently closed Some will simply be moving to the next nearest franchise for their next shift, some were such terrible employees at the current strip mall site that there s no way manager Manny could give them any so Find all of my reviews at little bitty book is about exactly what the title states the goings on with the staff of the localNot to be confused withAs they work the last shift before their failing location is permanently closed Some will simply be moving to the next nearest franchise for their next shift, some were such terrible employees at the current strip mall site that there s no way manager Manny could give them any sort of recommendation Some will stick it out until the lights are switched off for the final time, some will cut out as early as possible either due to an impending blizzard or interpersonal conflicts It s sort of like a dramatic version of I actually went to the library in May because of course I listened to this eighty seven months ago, but remembered I never wrote anything when my kid asked to go to our local Red Lobster for dinner the other night to maybe check out West of Sunset by this author as that one had been recommended to me When I saw this short selection available on audio knowing I had a short road trip coming up I figured I might as well roll the dice I don t really know what to say about this one The entire experience was kind of like watching a Seinfeld marathon it s not really about anything, and yet somehow This is a kind of day in the life story of a restaurant in this case the last day, as management took the decision to close its doors for economic reasons It s a Red Lobster restaurant chain, but it could be a fit in for any franchise restaurant The author does a wonderful job of humanizing this last day.The main character is Manny and we come to see how he relates to his employees view spoiler and his girlfriend at home who is pregnant and his other girlfriend at the restaurant hide s This is a kind of day in the life story of a restaurant in this case the last day, as management took the decision to close its doors for economic reasons It s a Red Lobster restaurant chain, but it could be a fit in for any franchise restaurant The author does a wonderful job of humanizing this last day.The main character is Manny and we come to see how he relates to his employees view spoiler and his girlfriend at home who is pregnant and his other girlfriend at the restaurant hide spoiler.There s a big snow storm outside and we get a perspective of the many interactions between employees, customers and the restaurant There are no lasting revelations on this last day just a matter of fact story telling about the goings on There is humour sprinkled here and there view spoiler I would have liked to know what the customer from hell with the horrible toddler wrote on the comment sheet I ve always wondered what restaurants do with these hide spoiler There s a nice snowy atmosphere throughout this short novella Reading this book I was reminded of Joe Queenan s Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon 1999 , an unfunny book of tossed off humor pieces about the irrevocable cheesiness of American culture In an essay called Slouching toward Red Lobster see what I mean by unfunny , Queenan describes the chain as a place for people who think they re too good for Roy Roger s That about sums up his point I m better than other people, and I get to write a book about it What I loved about LAST N Reading this book I was reminded of Joe Queenan s Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon 1999 , an unfunny book of tossed off humor pieces about the irrevocable cheesiness of American culture In an essay called Slouching toward Red Lobster see what I mean by unfunny , Queenan describes the chain as a place for people who think they re too good for Roy Roger s That about sums up his point I m better than other people, and I get to write a book about it What I loved about LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER is that forces people who revert to that reactionary snark to rethink their condescension toward the service industry O Nan finds poetry in the routine of check lists and machinery, in the effort to treat customerskindly than they treat waitresses and servers, in the effort to not give into despair but find some pride in work The story and style are deceptively simply, and it s easy if we read too fast to miss the emotional subtext In effect, O Nan walks a tightrope here he doesn t veer toward melodrama or sentimentality but a kind of fanfare for the common man The most dramatic moment comes when Manny ponders stealing the giant stuffed fish as a momento of all his time at the restaurant For some folks, that may seem too miniature to command attention, but to me it s indicative of the thousand little daily ethical challenges we face that make us a moral people Simply put, a beautiful little book