Synopses & Reviews
With stories in The New Yorker
's debut fiction issue and in The Best American Short Stories, 2000
, and as the winner of a Whiting Writers' Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, ZZ Packer has already achieved what most writers only dream about-all prior to publication of her first book.
Now, in 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. With penetrating insight that belies her youth-she was only nineteen years old when Seventeen magazine printed her first published story-Packer takes us to a Girl Scout camp, where a troupe of black girls are confronted with a group of white girls, whose defining feature turns out to be not their race but their disabilities; to the Million Man March on Washington, where a young man must decide where his allegiance to his father lies; to Japan, where an international group of drifters find themselves starving, unable to find work.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is a striking debut-fresh, versatile, and captivating. It introduces us to an arresting and unforgettable new American voice.
"The clear-voiced humanity of Packer's characters, mostly black teenage girls, resonates unforgettably through the eight stories of this accomplished debut collection....Packer knows how to keep the tone provocative and tense at the close of each tale, doing justice to the complexity and dignity of the characters and their difficult choices." Publishers Weekly
"Packer's debut collection reminds us that no stylistic tour de force or authorial gamesmanship, or flights of language can ground a story like a well-realized character. This is the old-time religion of storytelling, although Packer's prose supplies plenty of the edge and energy we expect from contemporary fiction." Jean Thompson, The New York Times Book Review
"Highly personal yet socio-politically acute: a debut collection that cuts to the bone of human experience and packs a lasting wallop." Kirkus Reviews
"Packer's stories, by turns astringent, brutally honest and sometimes funny, offer readers slices of life..." Ayesha Court, USA Today
"Packer's prose suggests university writing-workshop fiction at its insightful best, full of youthful angst and irreverence, yet polished, professional, and captivating." Brendan Driscoll, Booklist
"The short stories in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere feel refreshingly subtle and unresolved....In the book's more organic pieces, Packer's characters feel inseparable from the messy sociopolitical landscape, feet firmly planted in our world." The Village Voice
"Packer's handling of race is consistently impressive....But without question Packer's strength is her characters, and when she's at her best she writes like a boxer, capturing everything she needs in rapid-fire sentences." Marc Nebitt, The Washington Post
"She's a heck of a fine writer of rich, full, psychologically complex stories...and a wry sense of humor..." Stephen Dixon, author of I
"What a wonderfully frank, fearless, funny writer ZZ Packer is and how splendidly Drinking Coffee Elsewhere displays those qualities." Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture
About the Author
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.Hailing from Connecticut, by way of New York, SHIRLEY JORDAN has appeared in numerous stage, television productions, and commericals. Her TV credits include Ally McBeal, The West Wing, Friends, CSI, Angel, and Judging Amy.
Table of Contents
Every Tongue Shall Confess 29
Our Lady of Peace 49
The Ant of the Self 73
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere 105
Speaking in Tongues 133
Doris Is Coming 211