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review 2017-11-11 14:33
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ★★★☆☆
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

I was enchanted with this book of short stories at first, but gradually lost enthusiasm as I progressed through the short stories. I love the author’s ability to draw characters through their actions and interactions with each other and their environment. I love her ability to create a sense of place and how her characters fit in that setting. I love the little thought-provoking moments in each story. But there was an unrelenting sameness to the stories. She likes Shirley Jackson-ish main characters: young people who live too much in their own heads, socially-awkward, alternating between remaining passively and resentfully where they are and impulsively jumping into situations that they then don’t know how to extricate themselves from. She also doesn’t seem to know how to wrap a story up. Most of them just end abruptly, like the author just ran out of things to say. Of the eight short stories, the best were “Brownies” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

 

Paperback copy, which I will donate to the library as I don’t keep paperbacks that I rated fewer than 4 stars. Although this book has been on my physical TBR for two years, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy it. It was probably something I read when I was looking for TBR recs when I started the Book Riot challenge for We Need Diverse Books.

 

I read it for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 December 26th-31st: Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black. The author, ZZ Packer, is African-American.

 

Previous Updates:

11/9/17 82/265pg

11/10/17 210/265pg

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text 2017-11-10 14:42
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - 210/265 pg
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

This author apparently has no use for happy endings to her stories. They're not unrelentingly grim, but it's close.

 

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text 2017-11-09 18:39
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - 82/265 pg
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

Although the stories themselves are of varying quality so far, the writing is wonderfully evocative. This author can do more in less than 2 dozen pages to create a world, people it with real characters, and provoke my emotions than many authors can accomplish in a novel-length story. 

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text 2016-11-22 12:00
Top Ten Tuesday: National Nightmare Edition
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick,Robert Wilson IV,Valentine De Landro
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America - George Packer
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities - Rebecca Solnit
On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) - H. L. Mencken
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America - Nancy Isenberg
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In - Bernie Sanders
A Social History of the Third Reich - Richard Grunberger
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan,Ann Druyan
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History - Tananarive Due,Sofia Samatar,Ken Liu,Victor LaValle,Nnedi Okorafor,Sabrina Vourvoulias,Thoraiya Dyer,Rose Fox,Daniel José Older,Julie Dillon

I've been gone for a bit.

 

I’ve decided to go political right out of the gate. I suppose this is an odd note to start on as a “revival” of my blog after months away, and yet it is quite fitting given how I am feeling these days. Books are inherently political, if only because they reflect facets of our culture back to us, so it makes sense that I should find meaning in my blogging by looking in a political direction.

 

Typically, I would grab my Top Ten Tuesday topic from its originators, The Broke and the Bookish. Considering what is on my mind lately—non-stop—I felt instead like I would share a partial list of what I have read/intend to read as I come to grips with the election and figure out exactly how I want to tackle the aftermath. I, like many people blindsided by this travesty, have resolved to become more politically active and much more aware. This requires not just action, but knowledge and perspective, and I think that is something these books can offer in a time of need. This list could easily be hundreds of titles long but we have to start somewhere and ten is as good a number as any.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This will be a re-read for me and it couldn’t be more appropriate. And before you scoff about exaggeration, just remember the percentage of the evangelical vote that brought us where we are today.

 

Bitch Planet series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. Needed for much the same reason as Handmaid. Also, because it will make me righteously angry and I need that right now.

 

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. Who hurt you, America??

 

Hope in the Darkness by Rebecca Solnit. Just about anything by Solnit could fit here, but some readings by people I admire have pushed this one to the top of the list. We could all use a reminder that hope is hard but necessary and despair is not an option.

 

On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe by H.L. Mencken. While Mencken had some problematic views on women (he was writing 100 years ago), just about any of his political writings are extremely prescient. He saw this coming and we still didn’t listen.

 

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. What is it about the history of poverty and the wealth gap in the US that prompts people to vote against their own self-interest or scapegoat others? Is it just a lack of education or is it much more? And is class even the motivating factor people are claiming, or is it simply about culture? I’m hoping this book can shed some light on these questions.

 

Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders. I’m a Bernie Babe, can’t be helped.

 

A Social History of the Third Reich by Richard Grunberger. While there are any number of books on the Third Reich, I feel it is most important to begin by understanding the everyday people that contributed (purposefully or not) to its rise and normalization. And this is not just alarmism; the parallels are disturbing even from the vaguest distance.

 

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. Living in a post-truth world is going to do a number on science.

 

Any and every contemporary sci-fi short story collection I can get my hands on. I have

faith that these stories, told by diverse voices, will give me perspective beyond the headlines and history. In the right hands, speculative fiction gets to the heart of everything that troubles us as a people and gives us alternative visions of the future.

 

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review 2016-08-03 11:24
Book
Book - John Agard,Neil Packer

My name is book and I'll tell you the story of my life.

 

This little guy is probably getting judged unfairly; judged based on the shelf I found him on in the library, which was in the adult non-fiction section.

 

Based on that shelf, this book was juvenile and cloyingly written.

 

But if this had been shelved appropriately, for young readers, I'd say it's a fun book with solid information about the history of books, starting from oral tradition.  The eye-catching illustrations add visual interest and the interspersed quotes and poetry about books could send those kids in new reading directions.

 

So, if you know of a young bibliophile in the making and you see this book, it might be worth a look.  

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