Last Night at the Lobster: a tasty morsel
Here's a bite-sized (146-page) but thoughtful food-related book that hasn't received much attention.
Stewart O'Nan's tale of the closing of a Red Lobster restaurant in New Britain, Conn., held plenty of personal appeal for me. It takes place in my hometown, and O'Nan captures the spirit of a once-vibrant city that has slipped into post-industrial obsolescence. I also felt the poignancy of a business shuttered by larger events (here a corporate edict), because I watched my father's retail business close due to a bone-headed decision to put a highway through the center of town.
O'Nan perfectly captures the homespun pride of workmanship still found across America. There are no grand epiphanies here. But he offers a closeup of the everyday slights and hustles that we endure; the relationships we nurture or neglect in quiet ways; and the push to mark each day with a measure of accomplishment -- even if it's measured in grilled shrimp platters.