Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

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Synopsis

Chosen by John Updike as a Today Show Book Club Pick.

Already an award-winning writer, ZZ Packer now shares with us her debut, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Her impressive range and talent are abundantly evident: Packer dazzles with her command of language, surprising and delighting us with unexpected turns and indelible images, as she takes us into the lives of characters on the periphery, unsure of where they belong. We meet a Brownie troop of black girls who are confronted with a troop of white girls; a young man who goes with his father to the Million Man March and must decides where his allegiance lies; an international group of drifters in Japan, who are starving, unable to find work; a girl in a Baltimore ghetto who has dreams of the larger world she has seen only on the screens in the television store nearby, where the Lithuanian shopkeeper holds out hope for attaining his own American Dream.

With penetrating insight that belies her youth—she was only nineteen years old when Seventeen magazine printed her first published story—ZZ Packer helps us see the world with a clearer vision. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is a striking performance—fresh, versatile, and captivating. It introduces us to an arresting and unforgettable new voice.

 

About ZZ Packer

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Z.Z. Packer's first collection, "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere", was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a "New York Times" Notable Book, and was selected by John Updike for the "Today Show" Book Club. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. Packer is on the faculty of California College of the Arts, and her stories have been anthologized in "Best American Short Stories" and "New Stories from the South".
 
Published February 3, 2004 by Riverhead Books. 288 pages
Genres: Self Help, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

The Guardian

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Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer 256pp, Canongate, £9.99 Anyone who has ever struggled to teach a creative writing course and explain to a bunch of would-be writers just what makes a piece of writing come alive, what makes it heat up and burst into life, will know what an impossibly slipp...

Mar 06 2004 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Publishers Weekly

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The clear-voiced humanity of Packer's characters, mostly black teenage girls, resonates unforgettably through the eight stories of this accomplished debut collection.

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Publishers Weekly

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Her carefully engineered narratives treat listeners to the richness of highly developed characters and lead them to some intriguing scenarios, like a troop of black Brownies spending their time at summer camp plotting against a troop of what they initially see as haughty white girls;

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Book Reporter

Most of these stories had already appeared in various magazines and short story collections before being gathered for DRINKING COFFEE ELSEWHERE.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

AV Club

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Some of the flat stories consign readers to the quiet remove of Parker's characters, but for all of its suffocating stretches, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere hisses like a sigh blown through teeth clenched in anger and forgiveness.

Apr 08 2003 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Entertainment Weekly

The eight stories are smooth slices of life, whether they capture the throbbing energy of a Baltimore street corner or the fanning spirit of a Pentecostal church (''robin-breasted women would swell their bosoms, inhaling God'').

Mar 21 2003 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

The Sydney Morning Herald

Sister Clareese, a nurse who grits her teeth over the inane rhetoric of Pastor Everett at the Greater Christ Emmanuel Pentecostal Church of the Fire Baptized, but who feels compelled to bring patients to Jesus: " 'Praise the Lord, Mr Toomey!' 'This is your nurse, Sister Clareese, and I'm calling ...

Feb 28 2004 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

People

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Mar 31 2003 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

London Review of Books

Although each of the stories shows the importance of race, they all challenge the assumptions that to be black must mean feeling like a loser, and that feeling like a loser is always caused by being black.

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Story Circle Book Reviews

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Oct 08 2003 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Alibi

Although several of the stories share similar themes, and most of the protagonists are Black teenage girls or young women, Packer never repeats herself.

Feb 05 2004 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Reader Rating for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
75%

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