Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
The Red Lobster in New Britain, Connecticut is not performing the way corporate would like, so they're pulling the plug five days before Christmas. Manager Manny, a decent guy, wants to make the Last Night a great one. Unfortunately, he's got a bunch of no-shows, a few terrible employees that *do* show up, and a blizzard is keeping the customers away. He's also got a pregnant girlfriend at home, but is in love with one of his waitresses, with whom he had an ill-fated affair.
At only 146 pages, it's a very short novel, but a very good one. I pretty much devoured it in two days. (It would've only taken me one day, but I had to go to my own dead-end job.) Who'd have thought that the minutiae of a day at a chain restaurant could make for such a good story? I liked the characters, especially the well-drawn Manny. I found myself wanting things to go right for him. It's the sign of a good book that I'm curious as to what happened to the characters after story ends.
5 stars out of 5.