Drinking Coffee Elsewhere It's so easy to shrug aside the short story. The weekend comes around and all you want to do is stick your face into a… 2003-03-10 Fiction Riverhead
Book Review

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (2003)

Details Release Date: Mar 10, 2003; Writer: ZZ Packer; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Riverhead

It's so easy to shrug aside the short story. The weekend comes around and all you want to do is stick your face into a fat novel. ZZ Packer's deeply moving story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (Riverhead, $24.95), is worth a change of plans. The eight stories are smooth slices of life, whether they capture the throbbing energy of a Baltimore street corner or the fanning spirit of a Pentecostal church (''robin-breasted women would swell their bosoms, inhaling God''). But it's the title story that best showcases Packer's emotional heft. A black girl, a miserable freshman at Yale University, falls for a white girl with weight issues: ''One time I'd told her to shut up about it, that large black women wore their fat like mink coats.'' Their awkward, unconsummated relationship is the stuff of true romance.

Originally posted Mar 21, 2003 Published in issue #701 Mar 21, 2003 Order article reprints
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