10 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Valli reviewed Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (Alex Awards (Awards)) on
Helpful Score: 1
A wonderful collection of stories that will amuse, touch, and move you! This was another of my "impulse buys"; books I pick up because they are too cheaply priced to leave sitting on the shelf, but I'm glad I got this one and took the time to read it. I don't normally care for short stories because they usually end just as I'm getting interested, but each story in this book felt completely fleshed out to me. I thoroughly enjoyed each story.
I'd heard amazing things about this writer from various sources. Packer has been compared to Zadie Smith, Flannery O'Connor, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Terry McMillan. Believe the hype; the author has earned it. The prose stunned me from the first story and just didn't stop, effortlessly pushing stories along to satisfying and thought-provoking conclusions. As an added bonus, I was able to physically picture the streets in some of the stories, being familiar with the areas about which she was writing. I found myself rereading the fresh metaphors; nothing is trite or unoriginal here; it is almost as if this woman has been blessed with viewing the world in an additional color and is describing what the world looks like to her with that color in it. For example: "Dina did not want to talk about food but found herself describing the salmon croquettes her mother made the week before she died. Vats of collards and kale, the small islands of grease floating atop of pot liquor, cornbread spotted with dashes of hot sauce. It was not the food she ate all the time, or even the kind she preferred, but it was the kind she wanted whenever she was sick or lonely; the kind of food that - when she got it - she stuffed in her mouth like a pacifier." Packer doesn't even mention the specific word that this is referring to and yet we know.
Another I liked: "He had a smile like a sealed envelope" I could picture it so well and knew my immediate reaction to this character.
One story, "Geese," emerged as the singularly superior story in the collection. This may be because of my connection with the main character but it also may be because of the last line of the story, which I had to read twice. I knew, at that point, that ZZ Packer had weaved her way into my thoughts during the story and knew how I thought, knew what I was thinkingand knew what conclusions I was drawing. And then she dropped that line on me and made me feel like I hadn't learned a thing from the story, which was, of course, her masterful intent. A beautiful, sly genius. Watch out for this author; she is going places. You can't write like this and not tear the literary world open by its seams.