You Know When the Men Are Gone (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


You Know When The Men Are Gone is a novel told in linked stories, which is currently my favorite literary form. Each story is a brilliant little gem in itself, and Siobhan Fallon has the unique ability to draw you into each one immediately and take you on a roller coaster of a ride until you're thoroughly engrossed. Then she puts on the brakes, leaving you gasping for breath. But, being a sucker for a well-told story, I could never linger too long: I'd just dive right into the next one.

The common thread in these stories is the waiting game played by soldiers and their families living in Fort Hood during the war in Iraq. Whether the story is told from a soldier's perspective, or that of his spouse and family waiting back home, Fallon is able to skillfully portray the tension, the desperation, and the sheer ache of deployment and separation. On the other hand, when the men finally return, there's a very intimate discomfort that takes place in reestablishing a normal family life, and this, at times, is gut-wrenching.

Two of the stories were particularly affecting for me. First, the story of a soldier who has a girlfriend back home, but begins to fall in love with a beautiful young interpreter, who then turns up missing. What do you do? How can your worry and desperation be public? Your suffering and anxiety must be kept to yourself. The second is of a soldier who is driving himself so crazy wondering if his wife is having an affair back home that he takes leave and spends it hiding in the basement of his own house, watching the comings and goings of his wife and daughter. Though I won't tell how this one ends, I can say that my heart was pounding just as hard as the soldier's!

I just can't express how these stories literally took my breath away. Fallon writes with such familiarity and passion. The result is not only an incredibly moving, but timely collection. -- Linda Grana

— From May 2011

Summer 2012 Reading Group


“Surprising, get-under-your-skin characters populate the spare landscape of Fort Hood, Texas, in this collection of linked stories that will have a compelling effect on even the most skeptical reader. Fallon opens a window into military base life from the perspective of the quiet supporters -- spouses, children and injured vets - who stay home when the men deploy. A riveting debut!”
— Nicole Magistro, The Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO

February 2011 Indie Next List


“Surprising, get-under-your-skin characters populate the spare landscape of Fort Hood, Texas, in this collection of linked stories that will have a compelling effect on even the most skeptical reader. Fallon opens a window into military base life from the perspective of the quiet supporters - spouses, children and injured vets - who stay home when the men deploy. A riveting debut!”
— Nicole Magistro, The Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO

Description


Reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Tim O'Brien, an unforgettable collection of intercollected short stories.

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient.

About the Author


Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband, an Army major, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City. She lives with her family near the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.

Praise For…


"There is the war we know—from Hollywood and CNN, about dirt-smeared soldiers disarming IEDs and roaring along in Humvees and kicking down the doors of terrorist hideouts—and then there is the battleground at home depicted by breakout author Siobhan Fallon, an army wife with a neglected, deeply important perspective and a staggering arsenal of talent, her sentences popping like small arm fire, her stories scaring a gasp out of you like tracer rounds burning in the night sky over your home town."
– Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding, Refresh, Refresh, and The Language of Elk



"What a fascinating, rare glimpse into the domesticity of war. This is a wonderful debut. Each beautifully rendered story is braced with intelligence and wisdom."
– Jill Ciment



Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780399157202
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication Date: January 20th, 2011
Pages: 240