"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

In ZZ Packer's "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere", I was treated to a compilation of eight short stories. Each story depicts a young person in turmoil, learning a lesson or seeking an answer to life's questions.

In Speaking In Tongues, young Tia runs away from her overly strict aunt and church to search for her mother in Atlanta. As with most runaways, she is easily targeted by an area pimp. However her values forces her to fight her way out of his grasp, though there are close calls when it looked as if she would falter.

In Brownies, a group of young girl scouts, lead by bullies Arnetta and Octavia, seeks to fight a white Brownie troop who are also at camp due to trumped up charges that they called one of the girls the "N" word. Only they find out the group is made up of developmentally disabled Brownies.

The Ant of the Self is the only story featuring a male main character. Spurgeon can barely stand to be in the presence of his father, Ray Bivens, Jr. After bailing his father out of jail, Spur is attempting to drive him back to Indiana when Ray coerces him into driving to Washington, DC to the Million-Man March. Spur would rather be back at school participating in the debate team competition. Even after hearing the speeches at the March, Spur and his father still can not see eye to eye and can not improve their relationship.

Reading a collection of short stories is a rare experience for me, but this was an enjoyable one. Each offering is complete and as a reader I was satisfied with each story; not needing them to be any longer or wishing they were a complete book. Each short story offers a lesson and a different perspective on life. Though many of the characters are rural women with very strict religious backgrounds, the author does a wonderful job of developing them all with their own taste of individuality. This book is highly recommended.

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