Whatever Used to Grow Around Here
By Lauren Belski
Whatever Used to Grow Around Here by Lauren Belski is a collection of nine short stories that consider the experiences that resonate in the lives of American youth who strive to live meaningfully during times threatening to negate and dissolve.
Be they about a disgruntled poet stuck in a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere, or a state-champion cross-country runner who decides at a moment's notice to book it out of town, Lauren Belski's stories draw the reader into their protagonists' identities through prose that moves to the patterns of contemporary speech and plots that linger in definitive moments of love and self-discovery. This creates a reading experience that is as open to analysis as it is refreshingly un-contrived.
Belski is not afraid of writing in whatever mode her story calls for, and the result is a fiction of unmitigated immediacy and profound honesty.
From "Fat Man's Coat"
"Oh please," I told him. "I won't be able to feel anything through that fat man's coat."
"This coat?!" he asked, astonished, as if the coat could hear and was offended. "This coat can't contain me!"
His declaration echoed down the empty street.
By far, he was the strongest man on the block.
"Come on!" he said, waving me forward then settling back into a He-Man pose.
"Fine," I said, "But I'm not going to feel anything."
I took a step toward him, taking my hands out of my pockets and patting them up and down his sandpapery sleeves like an airport security guard, every now and again pressing up against a solid form of life: a bicep, the tendons of a shoulder. Then I got a little bolder.
Date: 2012 (First Edition)
Binding: Hand-sewn with archival-quality thread
Paper: Cover is Neenah Classic Laid (Peppered Bronze) #80C; flyleaf is Neenah Classic Laid #80T (Antique Grey); text is Neenah Environment #24 writing (White)
Size: 4.25" x 6.5"