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Last Night at the Lobster (2007)

by Stewart O'Nan

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1,26111812,200 (3.79)324
Managing a failed seafood restaurant in a run-down New England mall just before Christmas, Manny DeLeon coordinates a challenging final shift of mutinous staff members, an effort that is complicated by his love for a waitress, a pregnant girlfriend, and an elusive holiday gift.

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Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
This novel reads more like a short story. O'Nan minutely describes the last day of a small mall restaurant from the point of view of the manager. Don't count of a plot. It is a a very realistic description of what goes on. I enjoyed it very much, but if you need action in the books you read this one is not for you. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
O'Nan does not plead Manny Deleons'case... he just let's his action speak; the good, the bad, and the dumbstruck. A far more compelling, and empathetic "loser" than Bellow's Tommy Wilhelm of Seize the Day, and Exley's... well, Exley... of Fan's Note.

Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, among other franchises, are owned by the Darden Restaurants, Incorporated, who employ 185,000 employee's.

Next time you visit, be kind... and tip well.

Not because of this company, and their depressing brands, but because you might run across a Manny Deleon, or a Ty, an Eddie, a Roz, or a Jacquie.


"Jacquie's probably punched in and hung her coat up (puffy, quilted baby blue, with a white fake-fur collar, when they were together, she thought it was funny to hang hers right beside his, the two pressed together like a clue, though to everyone it must have seemed they were flaunting their happiness)".

"As he's finishing the crosshatched patch between the handicapped spots, another car turns in, a boat of an Olds with a rust-specked bumper- Mr. Kashynski, Manny's old gym teacher and coach from high school, retired now. He was ancient then, with a chapped ham of a face and a greased-down comb-over. Living twenty more years as a widower hasn't helped. He's a regular, with his own window booth. He'll order the broiled tilapia and a cup of coffee and quietly read the Herald, then leave Roz a three-dollar tip. He wheels the big '98 wide and noses into the first spot."
"Hey, Coach."

"From here in it's all checklist. He turns up the house lights, turns on the fake stained-glass lamps over the tables in all four sections. He powers up the sound system and dials the house music to the approved volume, and there's Bonnie Raitt singing "Something to Talk About" for the millionth time. Window by window he gently tugs the cords of the blinds and lets in the gray light of day."

"He remembers working beside her like this just this spring, how sharp and rich it was, carrying their secret; it could pop out in a deep kiss back by the coatrack, a tug on his hand out on the loading dock. Now the same silence between them carries a negatie charge, and a dull one, as if they've agreed to keep their emotions muffled, or pretend they have none. He keeps forgetting, they've declared a truce. He's supposed to be neutral."

"He uses the phone on the host stand and gets their answering machine, waits while the message plays, studying the muscular curve of the marlin's body, its hinged mouth and tiny teeth disappointing beneath the spear of a beak. Somewhere under the dust and shellac there must have been a real fish once. How long ago? He can almost see it swimming, thrashing in water blue as a swimming pool, the last minutes before it was hauled on board."

"Who,besides the people who actually work here, thinks about Red Lobster? And even they don't really think about it. Maybe Eddie, who seems happy to have a place to come every day, or Kendra, who doesn't always, but Manny can't imagine Rich or Leron wasting much thought on what's just a job. Maybe Manny didn't think enough of it either, all the years he took for granted that the Lobster would be here. In that way, he thinks, he's just like Eddie. And now it's too late."

"She turns, a cue for him to turn too. He wants to make a final declaration out here in the dark before they rejoion the others- "I love you" or something equally futile- but she's already headed for the door, escaping him again, as always."

"He needs to change the mood, and remembers the two of them in her low bed, motionless and sated after making love, lying there as if asleep.
That was the best time, even with the picture of Rodney in his cricket whites smiling down from the dresser. Silently he'd raise himself on one elbow to admire her, crane over and kiss her eyelids. It might seem like an illusion now, but he felt stronger then, smarter, thinner.
'You made me feel lucky,' he says."

( )
  runningbeardbooks | Sep 29, 2020 |
Less "A Novel" than "A Slightly Lengthy New Yorker Short Story." ( )
  AldusManutius | Jul 5, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this novella. These are the types of stories I find I appreciate as I get older. Just a slice of human life, relationship interactions. The characters were well drawn and though nothing earth shattering occurs it is a clever glimpse into a regular day in the life. I have read other Stewart O'Nan and find the author to my liking. Recommended. ( )
  jldarden | Mar 20, 2020 |
There's three of us over in a private group and each year we challenge each other with a new recommendation to read for the new year. This was one of the challenge reads for me. I've never read O'Nan before, so this was something really new. A true slice of life at work, in a service job. It dripped with the mundane, close and claustrophobic, especially as a snow storm closed in around the workers on their last night at a Red Lobster before it closes. A story for the common man. ( )
  blackdogbooks | Mar 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
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All the vatos and their abuelitas All the vatos carrying a lunch pail All the vatos looking at her photo All the vatos sure that no one sees them All the vatos never in a poem - Luis Alberto Urrea
For my brother John and everyone who works the shifts nobody wants
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Mall traffic on a gray winter's day, stalled. Midmorning and the streetlights are still on, weakly. Scattered flakes drift down like ash, but for now the roads are dry.
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Managing a failed seafood restaurant in a run-down New England mall just before Christmas, Manny DeLeon coordinates a challenging final shift of mutinous staff members, an effort that is complicated by his love for a waitress, a pregnant girlfriend, and an elusive holiday gift.

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