"Recognizing the brilliance of Lauren Belski’s storytelling, The Crumpled Press published this 4x6, hand-sewn, gem of a debut knowing that this is a book you’ll read and reread, and in which you’ll underline whole paragraphs and scribble down recurring thoughts. It’ll replace the City Lights Pocket Poets Series book in your jacket, because Belski’s sentences read like poetic odes to America and those of us lucky enough to roam free within it.
Full of real characters whose pasts, presents and futures are tied to the people and the places that surround them, the stories in Whatever Used To Grow Around Here remind us that, even though we sometimes forget (willingly or otherwise), we are all connected: you, me, Crazy Horse, the Ben Franklin Bridge, the Cherry Hill Mall, the buffalo."
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.