Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
By ZZ Packer
(Riverhead Trade, Paperback, 9781573223782, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 3, 2004
Categories: Short Stories (single author)
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.
”ZZ Packer’s prose is vivid and often comic...Her vision sizzles and fizzes.”John Updike
”A captivating eye for detail...a bold and often thrilling usage of language and style.”San Francisco Chronicle
”This is the old-time religion of storytelling, although Packer’s prose supplies plenty of the edge and energy we expect from contemporary fiction.”The New York Times Book Review
”A true cause for celebration for those of us who feel that fiction exists to crack the world open and again and inspire us with new love for it. Funny, fierce, verbally energetic, deeply compassionateZZ Packer is a wonderful new writer, who somehow manages to indict the species and forgive it all at once.”George Saunders, author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
”Acerbic, satirical, hilarious, nuanced, as fiercely unsentimental and deliciously subtle as Jane Austen.”O, The Oprah Magazine
”ZZ Packer writes a short story with more complexity and kindness than most people can muster in their creaking 500-page novels. It is the kind of brilliance for narrative that should make her peers envious and her readers very, very grateful.”Zadie Smith
”Packer casts an eye both humorous and merciless upon her characters, putting them, in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor, to tests of faith, family, friendship, love, and self that can approach almost Biblical dimensions.”Elle