ZZ Packer’s “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

This story can be found here:  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2000/06/19/drinking-coffee-elsewhere

This story deals with a lot of social and identity issues – race, sexual identity, fear of intimacy, etc. It’s written in 1st person, in a voice that slowly reveals the character to us. It’s a good example of the “unreliable narrator” that fits the character well. As one who does not reveal herself easily, we sometimes have to read between the lines to see her true character, which she tries to conceal from us.


What I’d most like you to focus on as you read is the narrative structure. Stories – even in 1st person stories – are best told as a sequence of scenes. What are some of the scenes that stick with you the most after reading? How do these scenes build on each other to slowly lift the rising action? What is the dramatic vehicle that gets the story rolling? What do you see as the climactic moment? And finally, what is your reaction to the ending. Does it resolve enough for you?

Shoot for 250-300 words.

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