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.
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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
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;| Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
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
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
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
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
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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.| Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page).Oct 08 2003 | Read Full Review of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
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
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