Waiter Rant, by “The Waiter” (to preserve the author’s anonymity, though he’s now identified himself as Steve Dublainca) is one of the best narrative nonfiction books I’ve read this year.
Short review: Highly Recommended, but with an asterisk for language (explained below). Waiter Steve Dublainca’s debut novel is a fast-paced narrative about his life as a waiter and restaurant manager in New York City. His ironic humor and eye for detail make this well worth the read.
Available via Amazon in Kindle, hardcover and paperback.
The Waiter started writing at Waiter Rant, a blog intended to release the pressures of his job waiting tables at a New York restaurant. Over time, the popularity of the blog and his increasing love of writing led him to produce the book, which contains a series of stories about his life in the restaurant industry, waiting tables and managing a restaurant. Interspersed among the stories are essays – inspired by one or more events in The Waiter’s life – which gradually reveal his increasing dissatisfaction with his circumstances and explain his decision to write. That description suggests a “message book,” but that’s not the case. It took me 3/4 of the book to recognize what The Waiter was actually doing – his stories are hilarious and his writing shines.
The best chapter in the book comes close to the end, where Dublainca reveals the only person who ever identified him in real life as a result of reading his anonymous blog. Suffice it to say, it was not what I expected, and I loved the reveal so much that I won’t ruin it here.
One warning: People with sensitivities to four-letter words won’t like this book, because they do appear. Expletives are not uncommon in the restaurant industry (and if that comment doesn’t get an A for understatement, I don’t know what does) and Dublainca is faithful to his subjects’ verbage, whether they’re chefs, wait staff or irate customers. The expletives weren’t common enough to distract me personally, because I can pretty much screen them out mentally as I read, but if you don’t read books with cursing…this one’s skip for you.
For all others, however, I’d call this one highly recommended. Dublainca’s second book, Keep the Change, comes out November 1, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. Given that I rarely pre-order books, I think that pretty much sums up my opinion. Waiter Rant is worth the read.