The Trees Grew Because I Bled There: Collected Stories by Eric LaRocca

The Trees Grew Because I Bled There is a collection of dark short stories by Eric LaRocca, exploring some of the more sinister side of human nature as well as trauma, body horror, and twisted relationships. From people having to make horrifying decisions about what to do with family members to blog posts detailing a cancer diagnosis, the stories delve into very human moments in weird and unexpected ways.

Having read LaRocca’s Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes and You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood, I wanted to read this collection, and it has a fair amount in common with the former book, in the way the stories have an ominous tone and generally explore strange dynamics between people, but also weave in queerness without it being the focus of the stories. As with any short story collection, there’s going to be stories some people prefer and others don’t, and for me I think my favourite was ‘You’re Not Supposed To Be Here’, a tale of two men in a park with their young son who suddenly meet some very odd strangers, as it felt like a classic horror film concept distilled into a short story. I also enjoyed the lingering body horror of ‘The Trees Grew Because I Bled There’ and the gradually unfolding darkness of the final story, ‘Please Leave or I’m Going To Hurt You’.

As with other LaRocca stories, these have some truly stand-out titles, and though I didn’t enjoy some stories as much as others, there’s a lot of gripping premises, weird goings-on, and protagonists making horrible choices to make this collection an enjoyable and occasionally uncomfortable (in a good way) read.