RECENTLY, THE Bennigan’s chain of restaurants announced that it was liquidating and closing more than 200 of its corporate-owned establishments across the country.
Lost amid the business press’ speculations about shifting markets and snide remarks about the chain’s food quality and decor were the lives and stories of the hundreds of Bennigan’s employees who are now out of a job. In fact, I could not track down a single news story that even mentioned how many workers were impacted.
For a welcome corrective to this oversight, everyone should read Stewart O’Nan’s moving novella The Last Night at the Lobster. While the book focuses on the employees at a single Red Lobster restaurant over the course of one day, in many ways it speaks for a generation of workers who have grown up in the dark shadow of the American Dream.