"The most acclaimed literary debut of the yearDiscovered by The New Yorker, Packer ""forms a constellation of young black experience""* whether she's writing from the perspective of a church-going black woman who has a crisis in faith, a young college student at Yale, or a young black man unwillingly accompanying his father to the Million Man March. This universally appealing collection of short fiction has already established ZZ Packer as ""a writer to watch"" (Baltimore Sun).Chosen by John Updike as a "Today Show" Book Club Pick.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
- PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
"A first-rate collection." -John Barth"Deeply moving."-Entertainment Weekly"Plenty of edge and energy."-New York Times"Deceptively simple."-New York Magazine"Consistently impressive."-Washington Post"Packs a lasting wallop."-Kirkus Review"Mesmerizing."-Miami Herald"Shrewd." -Seattle Times -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 10, 2004
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Excerpt from Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z. Z. Packer
BY OUR SECOND DAY at Camp Crescendo, the girls in my Brownie troop had decided to kick the asses of each and every girl in Brownie Troop 909. Troop 909 was doomed from the first day of camp; they were white girls, their complexions a blend of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla. They turtled out from their bus in pairs, their rolled-up sleeping bags chromatized with Disney characters: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Mickey Mouse; or the generic ones cheap parents bought: washed-out rainbows, unicorns, curly-eyelashed frogs. Some clutched Igloo coolers and still others held on to stuffed toys like pacifiers, looking all around them like tourists determined to be dazzled.
Our troop was wending its way past their bus, past the ranger station, past the colorful trail guide drawn like a treasure map, locked behind glass.
"Man, did you smell them?" Arnetta said, giving the girls a slow once-over, "They smell like Chihuahuas. Wet Chihuahuas." Their troop was still at the entrance, and though we had passed them by yards, Arnetta raised her nose in the air and grimaced.
Arnetta said this from the very rear of the line, far away from Mrs. Margolin, who always strung our troop behind her like a brood of obedient ducklings. Mrs. Margolin even looked like a mother duck -- she had hair cropped close to a small ball of a head, almost no neck, and huge, miraculous breasts. She wore enormous belts that looked like the kind that weightlifters wear, except hers would be cheap metallic gold or rabbit fur or covered with gigantic fake sunflowers, and often these belts would become nature lessons in and of themselves. "See," Mrs. Margolin once said to us, pointing to her belt, "this one's made entirely from the feathers of baby pigeons."