“She makes it sound like he’s supposed to save her, doubly unfair, since she knows that’s something he can’t resist. In the dark he can’t see the box, and imagines she’s passing him a loaded gun. His hand closes around it, and it’s his again, or no one’s.”
An account of the final shift at a closing Red Lobster during a snow storm sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, but O’Nan finds elegance here. He doesn’t break through the mundane, but uses it, dives deeper until we inhabit it as comfortably as the staff. We are given the everyday in all its lack of glory—a kid barfing, a snowblower that won’t start, the shit of dealing with a self-entitled public—and what emerges is a naturalistic picture of people surviving at great cost. There are no large epiphanies in this work, only the small realizations that change lives.