Last Night at the Lobster, is another Stewart O’Nan gem. O’Nan has the ability to portray life as it is, with all its warts--disappointments, unhappiness, irrational ire, and even bad weather—but also with its beauty marks—lasting friends, the love of someone special, the care of a stranger, and good luck. Only 160 pages long, Last Night at the Lobster is another example of O'Nan's ability to tell a story that feels real.
Manny DeLeon is the manager of a Red Lobster restaurant which is slated to close. As with any business taking its dying breaths, employees have either found other employment and resigned or simply disappeared in search of new opportunities. Others leave angry and resentful, taking out their frustration on the long-suffering manager. Manny is left with a skeleton crew on a snowy night, the last night of the restaurant’s existence, with little or no business. Any former and current restaurant employee will appreciate the situations that arise, and those who haven’t worked in a restaurant will gain a new appreciation for the professionals who work there. More than that, readers will appreciate Manny’s calm leadership and sense of responsibility.
Manny is dedicated to the end, saving only a few souvenirs but taking nothing of value, working multiple stations in the place of missing employees, and rallying the troops to make it through to an early close. We learn much about Manny’s character through his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend and one of his waitresses, with whom he had an affair—and how he accepts his duty—to close the restaurant that had been his to care for, to help find jobs for his employees, and return to his girlfriend.
Last Night at the Lobster was published in 2007 by Viking.