Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Author: Zz Packer
Type: aBook
Date Released: 0000
Format: mp3
Language: English
Page Count: 0
Isbn10 Code: -
Isbn13 Code: -

An outstanding debut story collection, Z.Z. Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere has attracted as much book-world buzz as a triple espresso. Yet, surprisingly, there are no gimmicks in these eight stories. Their combination of tenderness, humor, and apt, unexpected detail set them apart. In the title story (published in the New Yorker's summer 2000 Debut Fiction issue), a Yale freshman is sent to a psychotherapist who tries to get her--black, bright, motherless, possibly lesbian--to stop "pretending," when she is sure that "pretending" is what got her this far. "Speaking in Tongues" describes the adventures of an Alabama church girl of 14 who takes a bus to Atlanta to try to find the mother who gave her up. Looking around the Montgomery Greyhound station, she wonders if it has changed much since the Reverend King's days. She "tried to imagine where the 'Colored' and 'Whites Only' signs would have hung, then realized she didn't have to. All five blacks waited in one area, all three whites in another." Packer's prose is wielded like a kitchen knife, so familiar to her hand that she could use it with her eyes shut. This is a debut not to miss. The book form of this debut short story collection is getting the highest of accolades from the New York Times, Harper's, the New Yorker and most every other branch of the literary criticism tree. Likewise, the praise for the audio version of the book should be as lofty. Jordan, who, in addition to being a television and stage actor, works as an acting and dialogue coach, would be wise to use her superb performance here to advertise her business. Packer's stories deal with black men and women, mostly young and urban. 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; and the deadbeat dad who talks his son into driving him across the country to the Million Man March, not to participate, but to sell parrots to African-Americans. As the reader, Jordan submerges herself completely into her characters, portraying Packer's superbly fleshed out cast with a dazzling versatility and an intuitive sense of delivery. Whether singing Brownie songs or making palpable a character's resounding disappointments, Jordan's delivery is as whip-smart as Packer's text is fiery and precise.

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