*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Waiter
Author Matias Faldbakken
Translator: Alice Menzies
Publisher: Gallery Books/Scout Press
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a centuries-old European restaurant called The Hills, a middle-aged waiter takes pride in the unchangeable aspects of his job: the well-worn uniform, the ragged but solid tablecloths, and the regular diners. Some are there daily, like Graham “Le Gris”—also known as The Pig—and his dignified group of aesthetes; the slightly more free-spirited drinking company around Tom Sellers; and the closest one can get to personal friends of the waiter, Edgar and his young daughter, Anna. In this universe unto itself, there is scarcely any contact between the tables…until a beautiful and well-groomed young woman walks through the door and upsets the delicate balance of the restaurant and all it has come to represent.
I’m sad to say that I did not enjoy Faldbakken’s The Waiter. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what this book is about. It fell very flat and was full of two-dimensional characters whose purposes I am not certain about. The story is told from the perspective of a waiter who takes great pride in his job. He is able to execute his roll in the dining room with precision, but keeps a very formal relationship established between himself and the patrons. Beyond that, the story really lost me. It seems to be more of a fly-on-the-wall scenario, observing the inner workings of the customers at this restaurant, with no real plot to move this story along. The characters are flat, with no real personality or relate-ability.
This story did remind me a lot of a Food in Victorian Literature course that I took in my undergrad. This course was a fascinating study on the meaning of food within literature, indicating wealth, poverty, excess, happiness, etiquette, status, and so much more. We did a study on gastronomy and changing trends in the serving of food. If I were to really do an in depth study of the food in this book, perhaps I could glean more meaning, but I still feel as though the lack of authenticity and connection with the characters would still leave me wanting more.
I feel particularly disappointed in this book because I was so enthralled by the cover and with the description. It really sounded like a story that was going to be right up my alley. My expectations were high and they were sadly not met. I was going to call this one a DNF, but I really wanted to give it a change. In the end, it really wasn’t a story for me.