Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deal Me In, Week 8: "We Didn't" by Stuart Dybek

Lordy, I have been in such a reading dry spell lately. It seems like the reading well has run dry. It's a chore to just read my weekly short story for Deal Me In, let alone keep plugging away on the TBR Double Dog Dare. I could blame it on the fact that things have been heating up at work, and I am entering what is turning out to be my busiest term of the school year. So when I get home, I have been wanting to escape, and that does not mean struggling with stories and books that may or may not reward the time I spend with them. Sigh. However, I can read and tell you about ONE story, surely?

This week the carte de la semaine (as opposed to the carte du jour -- why in the world I am suddenly lapsing into French I have NO idea) was the four of diamonds, which took me to the pages of The Best American Short Stories 1994. I thought the story for this week, "We Didn't," by Stuart Dybek, was actually pretty good.

It's the story of a gradual break-up between the unnamed narrator and his girlfriend Julie. The narrator traces all the trouble back to one summer night on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the Gold Coast district of Chicago. He and Julie have spent all day together on the lake, and now they are ready to consummate their love under the stars -- that is, until the cops show up. But the cops are not actually there to bust them; they show up to retrieve the naked body of a young pregnant woman who drowned in the lake and, unbeknownst to the narrator and Julie, washed ashore close to where they decided to make out. Very awkward, to say the least.

This whole episode freaks Julie out, and the rest of the summer the thought of the dead young woman and her unborn child drives a wedge between the couple, and.... they don't actually ever end up having sex. (Hence the title of the story.) And they finally break up, all due to the dead woman.

This was a pretty interesting story. I had never read any of Dybek's stories before this one, but I would certainly be interested in reading some more of his stuff.

The Deal Me In short story challenge is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


  1. Gee whiz, talk about your buzz kill! The dead body of a pregnant woman nearby?!

    I'm glad DMI may help you navigate through a reading "dry spell" - just keep plugging along, you'll get through it. :-)

  2. Sounds like an interesting story!

  3. Sounds like an interesting story!

  4. Except for the girlfriend's name is Gin not Julie. :)

    1. Interesting, because in my copy it's quite definitely "Julie" and the narrator calls her "Jules" for short a couple of times as well. Is there a later version where Dybek changed her name for some reason? I can't think of any other explanation.