July 9, 1999

We Didn’t

Stories about what happens when we don't do something. It turns out that not falling in love, not doing our jobs, not spending time with our families is every bit as vivid and complicated an experience as doing something.


Ira reads a very brief excerpt from a short story from writer Stuart Dybek called "We Didn't." Dybek fills 11 pages, thousands of words, describing all the things two people do when they're not doing something. (3 minutes)

"We Didn't" appears in The Best American Short Stories: 1994.
Act One

You Come And Go, The Waiters Remain

This story is part memoir, part philosophical inquiry into the nature of not doing things. Writer Geoff Dyer had always wanted to write a biography about D.H. Lawrence, and chronicles all the things that keep him from ever starting. This, he says, is how most of us lead our lives: Avoiding the things we think we should be doing. This is an excerpt from his book called Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence. (16 minutes)
Act Two


What do we do when we're not doing something? Not writing a book, not doing our jobs, not falling in love? Sometimes we just feel self-conscious. Sometimes we spend a lot of time explaining ourselves. Sometimes both. Danny Hoch demonstrates, in this monologue from his one-person show Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop. His show is available on CD from his website. (8 minutes)
Act Four

Saying No For 75 Years

Journalist Steve Bogira tells the story of Vincent Bogan, who said "no" to something once—a decade ago, when he was 21—and now has to live with that one decisive act. Bogan was arrested and charged with 17 counts of armed robbery. He was offered a 25-year sentence if he pled guilty to all 17 counts. But he refused this plea-bargain arrangement. He ended up losing four cases, sentenced to 75 years in prison. Partly this is a story about what he says about that one decision he made a decade ago to refuse the plea bargain. Partly it's about how the courts punish people who decide to go to trial—tying up the courts—with sentences of extra severity. (19 minutes)