Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Night at the Lobster

Darn budget cuts. Because of cutbacks, our book transport service now takes longer than it did to deliver hold requests from other libraries. So I've been waiting for some holds to come in and grabbed a couple of quick, small one-day reads to tie me over until the books I want come in.

The first was Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster. O'Nan wrote a book with Stephen King on the Red Sox called Faithful which I own but have not read. After reading Last Night I'm in no hurry.

Sad and pointless. That's how I sum up this book. The book is about the final day of a Red Lobster restaurant in Connecticut. The restaurant is being shut down because it has been an underperformer and the story centers around the manager, Manny. Manny is Hispanic. You know how I know? He uses the word abuelita every three pages. Otherwise, he could be anybody. I guess O'Nan wanted to be able to reuse the story if necessary. "You want the manager to be German? Let's see....Find, Replace..."

Manny is supposed to be sympathetic in that his restaurant is being closed. He, however, has been transferred to an Olive Garden where he will be assistant manager. He had enjoyed a fling previously with one of his waitresses, Jacquie, and he still longs for her. He's preoccupied with her since they will no longer be working with one another. It shouldn't really matter since Manny has impregnated his girlfriend and Jacquie is dating an illegal alien who is a semi-pro cricket bowler (really? In Connecticut?).

The last night of the restaurant being open most of the staff does not come in. Of those who do, some leave early with one storming off in a huff and breaking car windshields. None of it matters as a blizzard hits and only one couple eats at the restaurant in the final eight hours or so.

In the acknowledgments, O'Nan thanks his family for putting up with a year of Red Lobster talk. It seems like O'Nan spent a year talking to Red Lobster employees, found out how the restaurant works, got a few good stories from them with which to populate his, and then just cobbled it all together. Pointless.

Thankfully, it is a short book. If it had taken me a few days to read, I might have put it in the avoid category.

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