Thanks, But No Thanks
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Pages: 9
Goes Well With: Thanksgiving leftovers

From the cute title, I expected Thanks, But No Thanks by Susan Lyons to be a fun little piece of fiction, but, unfortunately, I was wrong. It’s a short story, and I do mean short; it’s only nine pages long. But it was so short that I just couldn’t get into the story. Therefore, when I finished, I felt ambivalent toward the story.

It’s Thanksgiving time, and Kari is lonely. She’s a pretty and intelligent accountant, but she’s new to the area, and she doesn’t have many friends. Since her family is far away, Kari’s friend and co-worker, Rhonda, invites her over for Thanksgiving dinner. Rhonda’s husband, Harry, happens to have a friend named Nick, who’s also new to the area and—probably not coincidentally—has also been invited for dinner. What follows is so cliché and trite that even a seasoned romance reader like myself couldn’t keep my eyes from rolling.

  
 
It’s hard to believe that I could find much fault in a story that’s only nine pages long, but I did. I found the dialogue to be stiff and forced. As I read, I actually thought to myself that people don’t really talk that way.

I would have liked to see more of Kari and Nick’s personalities and know more about them. For instance, why does Kari hate blind dates so much? Why isn’t Nick (or Kari, for that matter) going home to his family for Thanksgiving? Is money tight? Or maybe he’s just never forgiven his father for voting Republican in the last presidential election. Unfortunately, our inquiring minds will never know.

Also, as much as I love romance stories, the whole “I hate blind dates…no, wait, I love him” thing can get a bit old. I would have rather seen Kari and Nick bond over something like the awkwardness of watching Rhonda’s Uncle Barry drink too many rum-and-Cokes before dinner before falling headfirst into his cranberry sauce. Starting a conversation based on the cliché of mistaken identity (as it happens in the story) is a little too bland to spark the reader’s interest in something so short.

Since the story is centered on Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving involves food, I’ve cooked up (pun intended) a culinary analogy for my thoughts on this story: Thanks, But No Thanks is like when your boyfriend tries to cook silver dollar pancakes for you in the morning. You really want to like them, but they just don’t have enough substance to satisfy you.

It’s not that I have a problem with short stories—even super-short ones—but it takes an incredibly talented writer to be able to capture a character’s complete personality and nuances in such a short period of time, all the while developing an engaging plot. Unfortunately, Thanks, But No Thanks doesn’t do that, and I would have much rather spent a little extra time reading a longer story, in order to get better character development and plot. A couple of extra pages—with some better dialogue and more character and plot advancement—would have done Thanks, But No Thanks a world of good without adding too much bulk.

All in all, I didn’t enjoy this short story; it was just too short to satisfy me. I’d recommend it only for people who are seriously pressed for time—and who don’t mind sacrificing quality for less quantity.

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