Brownies and Yalies

Is ZZ Tops?

The reader hopes Dina will "find" herself, but her appearance in a second story only gets her more lost. In "Geese," she flies to Japan hoping to make a lot of money, though "it wasn't really a plan at all, but a feeling, a nebulous fluffy thing that had started in her chest, spread over her heart like a fog." Bunking in a room with four other destitute foreigners, she ends up doing squalid things she never thought she'd do, transformed by context just as she had been years before at Yale. One day, staring at birds in the park, Dina thinks about the kamikaze planes she'd once read about.

ZZ Packer: The favorite insult that summer was "Caucasian."
photo: Marion Ettlinger
ZZ Packer: The favorite insult that summer was "Caucasian."

"Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" is a work of emotional origami—the most complex creation in this promising, downtempo collection of stories. And in Dina, she has conjured a vivid heroine who teeters on the edge of a tenuous future, lowering her expectations notch by notch.

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