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Drinking coffee elsewhere
ZZ Packer
Adult Fiction PACKER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The clear-voiced humanity of Packer's characters, mostly black teenage girls, resonates unforgettably through the eight stories of this accomplished debut collection. Several tales are set in black communities in the South and explore the identity crises of God-fearing, economically disenfranchised teens and young women. In the riveting "Speaking in Tongues," 14-year-old "church girl" Tia runs away from her overly strict aunt in rural Georgia in search of the mother she hasn't seen in years. She makes it to Atlanta, where, in her long ruffled skirt and obvious desperation, she seems an easy target for a smooth-talking pimp. The title story explores a Yale freshman's wrenching alienation as a black student who, in trying to cope with her new, radically unfamiliar surroundings and the death of her mother, isolates herself completely until another misfit, a white student, comes into her orbit. Other stories feature a young man's last-ditch effort to understand his unreliable father on a trip to the Million Man March and a young woman who sets off for Tokyo to make "a pile of money" and finds herself destitute, living in a house full of other unemployed gaijin. These stories never end neatly or easily. 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. (Mar. 10) Forecast: Packer's stories have been published in Harper's and Story, and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2000. This collection has been much anticipated since she was featured in the New Yorker's Debut Fiction Issue of 2000. BOMC, QPB, Insight Out, Black Expressions, and InBook alternate selection; author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Though they rarely appear on best sellers lists, short story collections can be the ultimate in fiction-the freshest voices, the most distilled prose, the most exciting trends. Newcomer Packer's debut is that kind of collection. Lauded by The New Yorker in its 2000 "Debut Fiction" issue and published in other magazines since, she fills her first book with some distinctive entries. In "Geese," a young black woman from Baltimore upends her life to seek her fortune in Japan but ends up living in a tiny apartment with a number of bitter, unemployed foreigners. In "Our Lady of Peace," a new college graduate signs up for an accelerated teacher certification program but self-destructs in the hard neighborhood in which she finds herself. In "Doris Is Coming," a young woman from a fundamentalist family yearns to join the lunch counter sit-ins in 1961 and visits the Lithuanian appliance store owner to watch television when she wants to escape from her family. Bright, sharp, promising, and recommended.-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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