#71 ~ Last Night at the Lobster

May 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 10 Comments
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Cover of Last Night at the Lobster

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novella. I actually can’t recall the last one I read. Stewart O’Nan certainly breathes life back into this genre for me with Last Night at the Lobster, the story of Manny, a New England Red Lobster manager coming to terms with the closing of his restaurant and the difficulty he has to comes to terms with any kind of closure in his life.

Manny is a model employee. He is somewhat of a perfectionist at work, strictly following company policy despite the fact that the current work day is the last his restaurant will be open. Those times during the day that he does bend policy, such as comping lunch for the staff who comes to work on that day, his conscience niggles at him afterwards. Although there is conflict in the workplace, he is a well liked as a manager even by those he isn’t taking with him to the Olive Garden in a nearby town. In fact, he’s equally shocked that those he isn’t taking with him showed up on that blizzard depressed day as he is by those promised continued work who did not.

Manny expends most of his energy over-analyzing the recent loses in his life – his beloved abuela, his position at the Red Lobster, and his somewhat illicit affair with Jackie, one of his employees. Despite the fact that he has Deena, a woman pregnant with his child, waiting for him to celebrate the holidays, he can’t help but think about Jackie and why on earth she showed up for the last day of work. He tries as best as he can to reconcile or at least find peace with his romantic and professional future, but his thoughts about the past are falling upon him as heavily as the snow.

Manny has a “table touch” approach to life. He glosses over issues that arise by making promises that are ultimately meaningless in order to bring about resolution. This might work well for him as a restaurant manager, but it underscores an emptiness he brings into his relationships with others. This is made most evident as he thinks rather allusively throughout the day about the pivotal moment in his relationship with Jackie. It is here that she made her choice to stop seeing him romantically. He sees only what her choice cost him, not what her choice cost her or why she made that decision in the first place.

I really enjoyed getting to know Manny through his obsessive thoughts and his interactions with his employees and patrons. There were times where I wished that I could have reached in and told him to completely pay attention to himself and what goes on around him. He already feels as though he does and that is what really makes him come to life for me. He tries his best and when that’s not good enough, he keeps trying. And this is what makes him a good manager, even on the last night at the Lobster.

To buy this book, click here.

Home, Sweet Home

May 19, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, Reading | 2 Comments
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Long time, no posts.  I hope that you all had a wonderful week last week.  I’ve now returned from a much enjoyed trip to the Land of Dolly.  As much as I enjoyed my vacation, it feels good to be in my own home and sitting in my own bed as I type.  We did not have Internet access after Tuesday.  Wow!  That was a long time to be without.  I’ve got a lot of email and blogs to catch up on!

The first part of our vacation was spent with my parents, my four siblings, and their families.  It was so nice to all be together in one place, even though we experienced a good deal of trauma during  those first few days…

  1. The first full day Danny threw his back out at our hotel by walking from the bathroom to the refrigerator.  He was down that entire day and most of next two.
  2. While taking the girls to the pool that same day, I tripped on my really cute but dangerous heals and fell down a few stairs.  I twisted my ankle pretty bad and it still hurts tonight.
  3. The next day, while at the pool once again, Ally, my youngest, slipped through her Dora swimming ring and went under water.  I had left my bathing suit at the hotel, so I dove into the pool fully clothed.  My brother called to me that he had her, but I wasn’t aware of anything else other than my baby underwater waving her arms helplessly.  This all took only a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity to me.  She’s fine, but the color from the beach towel I wrapped myself up in afterwards bled onto my new turquoise capris.

After that, things looked up considerably.  We enjoyed the rest of the time with my family and then my best friend Trista and her family from Michigan came down.  We rented a chalet up in the mountains a few minutes from Dollywood.  Trista’s two children fall between mine in age.  Despite the bickering that comes with preschoolers living together, they had a great time.  It’s so nice to be able to watch them play.  Together, we went to the Gatlinburg aquarium, an arcade on the strip, Cooters, Dollywood, miniature golfing, to a petting zoo, and to Dixie Stampede.  Have I mentioned we had a great time?

I even got some reading done along the way.  I’ll post official reviews later this week, but I finished The Lady Elizabeth (well written, but no new territory explored there), Last Night at the Lobster (an excellent novella!), and Trauma (I finished that up a half hour ago while soaking in a hot tub – superb.  One of McGrath’s better novels).

Tomorrow I’ll be drawing for my May Book Give Away after work.  There’s still time if you’d like a chance to get a free book in the mail!

Smoky Mountain Vacation

May 12, 2008 at 8:43 am | Posted in Barnes & Noble, Books, entertainment, Family, Historical Fiction, LibraryThing, My Life with Books, Reading | 5 Comments
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Greetings from Gatlinburg, TN, located in heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s beautiful here despite the rain and I’ve enjoyed seeing my parents (I haven’t see my mother on Mother’s Day for at least 10 years), siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews. The kids did a great job on the drive. Even if they hadn’t, it’s just nice being out of the Roanoke Valley.

Although we’ll be away from home for 9 days, I’m planning on getting some good reading in:

  • Taking Lisa’s advice from Books on the Brain, I rented Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan from the library.
  • I snagged the latest book by Patrick McGrath, Trauma on the way to the checkout desk I was at the library.
  • The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block, which I received through a trade with another Early Reviewer on LibraryThing.
  • I picked up The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani for under $5 at Barnes and Noble last week. I’ve been wanting to read this since I read a review by Divia on HistoricalFiction.org.
  • Finally, I’m finishing up The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. I’d love to say that I’m loving it, but it’s just okay. No offense to Last Night at the Lobster, but I shouldn’t be looking forward to my next book. I should be savoring this one. Sigh…

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