"More than anyone else, Manny DeLeon belongs here. As general manager it's his responsibility to open, a task he's come to enjoy. While Red Lobster doesn't license franchises, over the years he's come to consider this one his--or did until he received the letter from headquarters. He expected they'd be closed for renovations like the one in Newington...Instead, headquarters regretted to inform him, a company study had determined that the New Britain location wasn't meeting expectations and, effective December 20th, would be closing permanently." (3)
This is documentation of the final hours of a Red Lobster at the quiet edge of a shopping mall parking lot. The manager, the last few customers, the employees he likes, the ones he doesn't, and the love of his life--a waitress who's dating someone else. It feels very final and nostalgic, but the characters don't make a deep enough impression to rise above the tired plot line. I did enjoy it, but at the same time it felt like it was a writing exercise undertaken by the author and only published as an afterthought. "Hey, this turned out ok and I've already got a name for myself with my ten novels--why not?"
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ratchet19, December 27, 2007 (view all comments by ratchet19)
A well-crafted story about Manny Deleon, the manager of a Red Lobster on it's last night of operation. Manny must walk the minefield of a winter storm, unreliable and difficult employees and customers, a pregnant girlfriend, and a failed relationship with one of his waitresses. O'Nan writes with a singular clarity and attention to detail, illuminating not just Manny's work but also his foundering hopes and the responsibilities that weigh them down. Not a new story, but one that is heartfelt and well-drawn. At just 145 pages, a short but worthy read.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Set on the last day of business of a Connecticut Red Lobster, this touching novel by the author of Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying tells the story of Manny DeLeon, a conscientious, committed restaurant manager any national chain would want to keep. Instead, corporate has notified Manny that his — and Manny does think of the restaurant as his — New Britain, Conn., location is not meeting expectations and will close December 20. On top of that, he'll be assigned to a nearby Olive Garden and downgraded to assistant manager. It's a loss he tries to rationalize much as he does the loss of Jacquie, a waitress and the former not-so-secret lover he suspects means more to him than his girlfriend Deena, who is pregnant with his child. On this last night, Manny is committed to a dream of perfection, but no one and nothing seems to share his vision: a blizzard batters the area, customers are sparse, employees don't show up and Manny has a tough time finding a Christmas gift for Deena. Lunch gives way to dinner with hardly anyone stopping to eat, but Manny refuses to close early or give up hope. Small but not slight, the novel is a concise, poignant portrait of a man on the verge of losing himself." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Stephen King, bestselling author of Lisey's Story,
"A deeply moving novel about how we work, how we live, and how we get to the next day with our spirits intact. If there was ever a book that embodies what's best in us, it's Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A rueful mood piece....O'Nan hews to a neglected literary tradition by focusing his sympathetic attention on people with few options....Very low-key, but haunting and quietly provocative."
by Library Journal,
"This slice-of-life novel is funny, poignant, and exquisitely rendered. Strongly recommended."
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"[A] densely packed 146 pages with few wasted words. It's O'Nan at his most concentrated....Last Night at the Lobster doesn't have Dickens' warm and fuzzy ending, but it is a paean to those who do their job and do it well..."
by The Los Angeles Times,
"Last Night at the Lobster makes beautiful sense in the span of O'Nan's writing life: It's a Zen koan of a book — Manny's life in all its integrity echoing out across a wintry mall in a Rust Belt American town."
by Denver Post,
"Stewart O'Nan excels at bringing the reader into the skin of his characters....In lesser hands, Last Night at the Lobster...would be mundane; instead, this bittersweet story sings."
by Philadelphia Inquirer,
"[C]oncise, unsettling, sometimes funny....Strong fiction such as this offers not only diversion and entertainment but also the opportunity to experience life as another human being. To read Last Night at the Lobster is to take an enlightening walk in the shoes of a different kind of hero."
by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
"The characters populating O'Nan's restaurant never leap off the page, and by the book's end, no great strides have been made, no pivotal issues resolved."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"O'Nan's empathy for his characters is one of his great gifts as a novelist, and it is an impressive achievement that Manny's misplaced affection for Red Lobster is not risible, but tragic."
O'Nan has crafted a frank and funny yet emotionally resonant tale set within a vivid workaday world seldom seen in contemporary fiction. This work presents a poignant yet redemptive look at what a man does when he discovers that his best might not be good enough.
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.
In the new novel from the author of Last Night at the Lobster, a middle-age couple goes all in for love at a Niagara Falls casino
Stewart O'Nan's thirteenth novel is another wildly original, bittersweet gem like his celebrated Last Night at the Lobster. Valentine's weekend, Art and Marion Fowler flee their Cleveland suburb for Niagara Falls, desperate to recoup their losses. Jobless, with their home approaching foreclosure and their marriage on the brink of collapse, Art and Marion liquidate their savings account and book a bridal suite at the Falls' ritziest casino for a second honeymoon. While they sightsee like tourists during the day, at night they risk it all at the roulette wheel to fix their finances-and save their marriage. A tender yet honest exploration of faith, forgiveness and last chances, The Odds is a reminder that love, like life, is always a gamble.
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