"Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers" is a 1987 science fiction short story by Lawrence Watt-Evans. It is about a teen-aged boy who works at diner where strange people come to eat.
I’ve been wanting to read this story for a while now, and when one of my readers (Donna) recommended it lately I knew it was time to give it a try. It’s quite a famous little story, having won the 1988 Hugo Award and Asimov’s Readers’ Poll as well as being nominated for the Nebula and Locus Poll Awards! I am glad I read it as I found it to be quite enjoyable, and highly recommend it to all of you! Enjoy!
The protagonist of this story is a high school boy who lives in rural West Virginia. Because he lives in the middle of nowhere he begs the owner of a nearby diner for a job – and it works! He begins by working the graveyard shift from midnight to 7:30 am, and mostly just cleans up and serves the few customers who come in during that time. And that is where things start to get strange – some of the people who come in during the wee hours of the night are… not quite the same as everybody else. As he works there longer and longer he begins to understand them and where they are from, and even makes friendly conversation with some of them. Just as he decides that he wants to join with these people one of them pulls him aside and gives him some very good advice. The question is: will this teenager follow the sage advice – or will he make an irreversible decision?
My Two Cents
- Story: – I very much liked the story, and thought it felt a lot like “Men in Black” – only better!
- Writing: – I think the author did a great job with the writing in this story, but I’m not a huge fan of “teenage talk” so I took one star off for that.
- Fun Factor: – The mystery of the customers, and the decisions that our teenage friend comes to are really fun to read about.
Where To Find Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers
- This short story first appeared in the July 1987 edition of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
- You can read "Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers" online for free at the Escape Pod web site.
- It is also included in the very cool anthology The Seventh Science Fiction Megapack: 25 Modern and Classic Stories.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you enjoyed "Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers" then you might also like “The Persistence of Vision” by John Varley – about a drifter who discovers an amazing commune of blind and deaf people in the New Mexico desert.