16 April 2018
Drinking Coffee Somewhere: A Profound Take on Modern America
In the time I have had the pleasure of reading ZZ Packer's compilation of short stories in her book, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, I found several specific elements of her writing and overall story-telling that sheds light on the issues and social dynamics of contemporary America in an accurate and relatable way. Specifically, Packer’s book reveals truths about the youth and young adults of cotemporary America, and how their experience of society is drastically different than the from the experiences of others. Moreover, Packer’s writing help to show the uniqueness of everyone’s experience in contemporary America and how each individual’s experiences ultimately help define the overall perspective of society as a whole. Therefore, I have concluded that Packer’s use of story-telling in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere does not present a warped or distorted view of cotemporary America, but instead, has offered our culture a fresh, relevant and accurate view of our society.
There are some readers, authors and writing critics that may view the content of the book to be a misrepresentation or distortion of contemporary America. This viewpoint can be based on the very pointed and specific usage of characters in Packer’s stories that represent different types of ethnicities, ages, religious beliefs and economic groups in stereotypical and/or unflattering behaviors throughout our society. Moreover, Packer made the bold choice to make African American culture the focal point of her stories and glean from her personal experiences and cultural understandings to build an empathy-based connection with her readers that can lead to both understanding and controversy.
An example of Packer’s controversial writing is in her short story, “Brownies”. In this portion of her book her story revolves around a troop of black girl scouts, and a group of white girl scouts that we later find out are delayed learners. The black troop wants to get revenge on the white troop for calling them "the N word," and so they come up with a plan to retaliate, and the girls end up calling the other troop "retarded." This causes many problems for the troops and their leaders. Specifically, it leads to a discussion amongst the black girl scout troop addressing deep rooted issues relating to racial and religious prejudice and manipulation in our country that they have seen played out in their homes and communities. Additionally, the main character, nicknamed Snot, comes to a conclusion at the end, saying, "When you've been made to feel bad for so long, you jump at the chance to do it to others...'No,' I said, and suddenly knew there was something mean in the world that I could not stop" (Packer 31). This example of Packer’s hard-hitting work demonstrates the profound and contentious natural of Packer’s book. “Brownies” perpetuation of conflict between a group of black girls and a...