Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan (a review)

4 out of 5: Last Night at the Lobster chronicles the last day of business for a New Britain, Connecticut Red Lobster location from the perspective of the restaurant’s long-time general manager, Manny DeLeon. I can’t imagine a more banal subject, but O’Nan handles the narrative with supreme grace and sensitivity and with plenty of empathy for his characters. Manny is sweetly sentimental as he goes through his last-day tasks and interacts with the staff he’s grown to love. The entire novel spans just one day, and this limited focus gives O’Nan plenty of room to focus on the details (like the six steps Manny must follow to turn on the snow blower he uses to clear the parking lot of the effects of a winter blizzard). Although unapologetically limited in scope, Last Night at the Lobster is perfect for what it is trying to accomplish.

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