You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone

3.6 106
by Siobhan Fallon
     
 

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Through fiction of dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon welcomes readers into the American army base at Fort Hood, Texas, where U.S. soldiers prepare to fight, and where their families are left to cope after the men are gone. They'll meet a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband's email, and a teenager who

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Overview

Through fiction of dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon welcomes readers into the American army base at Fort Hood, Texas, where U.S. soldiers prepare to fight, and where their families are left to cope after the men are gone. They'll meet a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband's email, and a teenager who disappears as her mother fights cancer. There is the foreign born wife who has tongues wagging over her late hours, and the military intelligence officer who plans a covert mission against his own home.

Powerful, singular, and unforgettable, these stories will resonate deeply with readers and mark the debut of a new talent of tremendous note.

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Siobhan Fallon tells gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families…in this brief, tight collection—and there's not a loser in the bunch…
—The New York Times
Lily Burana
…terrific and terrifically illuminating…The highest praise I can give this book—as a critic and a soldier's wife—is that it's so achingly authentic that I had to put it down and walk away at least a dozen times. At one point, I stuffed it under the love seat cushions. If Fallon ever expands her talents into a novel, I may have to hide in the closet for a month. Challenging as the subject matter may be, this is a brisk read. Fallon's sentences are fleet and trim. Her near-journalistic austerity magnifies the dizzying impact of the content…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The crucial role of military wives becomes clear in Fallon's powerful, resonant debut collection, where the women are linked by absence and a pervading fear that they'll become war widows. In the title story, a war bride from Serbia finds she can't cope with the loneliness and her outsider status, and chooses her own way out. The wife in "Inside the Break" realizes that she can't confront her husband's probable infidelity with a female soldier in Iraq; as in other stories, there's a gap between what she can imagine and what she can bear to know. In "Remission," a cancer patient waiting on the results of a crucial test is devastated by the behavior of her teenage daughter, and while the trials of adolescence are universal, this story is particularized by the unique tensions between military parents and children. One of the strongest stories, "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming," attests to the chasm separating men who can't speak about the atrocities they've experienced and their wives, who've lived with their own terrible burdens. Fallon writes with both grit and grace: her depiction of military life is enlivened by telling details, from the early morning sound of boots stomping down the stairs to the large sign that tallies automobile fatalities of troops returned from Iraq. Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent. (Jan.)
San Francisco Chronicle
....surely marks the beginning of a major career . . . [Fallon] has a sharp, clean, prose style; a gift for telling urgent, important stories; and an eye for the kind of odd, revelatory detail that may seem ordinary if you have spent time on military bases but that civilians rarely encounter.
Bookreporter.com
Fallon has produced a phenomenal collection that should hit the book club circuit soon and will be considered good reference for anyone looking for more insight into and understanding of today's modern Army wife/family.
New York Journal of Books
You Know When the Men Are Gone is the explosive sort of literary triumph that appears only every few years. As such, it should not be missed.
New York Times
Siobhan Fallon tells gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families. It's clear from her tender yet tough-minded first book, "You Know When the Men Are Gone," that she knows this world very well. The reader need not look at Ms. Fallon's biography to guess that she, like her book's characters, has spent time living in Fort Hood, Tex., watching the effects of soldiers' leave-takings and homecomings on men and the wives they leave behind...
Boston Globe
“a haunting collection likely to inform and move many readers, whether they are familiar with the intricacies of military life or not. Though the everyday experience of the women waiting for their husbands to come home may be “a sense of muted life,’’ these stories pulse with the reality of combat and its domestic repercussions.”
O Magazine
Fort Hood, Texas, is the largest military installation in the free world- 340 square miles, as Siobhan Fallon notes in her fascinating YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE (Amy Einhorn/Putnam). Fort Hood also functions as a small town; everyone in these eight interconnected tales knows everyone else’s business- or tries to. Neighbors read ordinary objects like tea leaves: Contents of a shopping cart may foretell child neglect, an unclaimed pickup truck portends marital discord, a freshly mown lawn whispers of cancer. Mostly, though, the women wait for their husbands to come home and provide an intimacy that never arrives. Fallon, the wife of an officer, writes with understatement about the divide between those who go and those who stay: “Then, in the dark, he almost told her about Sergeant Schaeffer, how his body had pinned Kit down, his arms outstretched over him like some Old Testament angel. How he could smell Schaeffer burning and he thought it was his own flesh.” Whether or not characters agree to the unwritten pact of secrecy between soldier and civilian, war marks them as surely as medals on a uniform. --(Bethanne Patrick)
From the Publisher
"Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Los Angeles Times
Fallon, who earned an MFA in writing from the New School in New York, gives a compassionate yet unflinching portrait of the modern-day home front. She knows the world well, having spent two of her husband's deployments among the waiting wives. In "You Know When the Men Are Gone," she reminds us of the outsized burden our military families carry, that the overseas casualty counts carried in newscasts can never tell the whole truth.--(De Turenne)
Denver Post
“Each of Fallon’s stories leaves the reader wanting more . . . You Know When the Men are Gone is compulsively readable and memorable, stories of unsung courage displayed by characters hard to forget.”
Library Journal
Fallon's accomplished debut short story collection offers a glimpse into a world few civilians will ever experience: Fort Hood, TX. Fort Hood is a place where husbands and fathers pack their gear and leave for deployments of a year or longer. Left behind are the families, and each of the eight stories describes a different spouse or family coping with such a prolonged absence. The wife and mother with breast cancer, the teenage bride, the young mother, the Serbian wife who speaks little English—each deals with the stress and loneliness of her husband's deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan in her own way. Some isolate themselves, choosing to live off base or move back in with their families. Others embrace the company and support of other army wives and attend Family Readiness Group meetings. This might be a work of fiction, but Fallon's work is remarkably real, and each story's characters immediately grip the reader. VERDICT Excellent; even readers who do not usually read short stories should seek out this book.—Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA
Kirkus Reviews

In an accomplished debut story collection, Fallon lays bare the lonely lives of military families when the men go to war.

In these eight loosely connected tales, the families of Fort Hood, Texas, wait for their men to come home. That waiting, filled with anxiety, boredom and sometimes resentment, creates a Godot-like existence, in which real life begins only when a soldier's deployment ends. In the title story, young Meg, her husband in Iraq, becomes obsessed with her neighbor Natalya, a glamorous Serbian with little English and two babies, doubly isolated in Fort Hood. Meg presses her ear to their shared wall and eventually hears the voice of a strange man. In "The Last Stand," a soldier returns from Iraq permanently injured, to a wife tired of the strains of army life. She brings him to a hotel and then buys him breakfast before notifying him of their imminent divorce, their marriage a casualty of the war. In "Leave," Officer Nick Cash suspects his wife is cheating on him. On his scheduled leave home from Iraq, he tells his wife he has to stay at the front, but then secretly returns to Fort Hood, breaks into the basement of his own house and hides there for a week, waiting for the truth with a knife in his hand. In "Camp Liberty," the only story to take place largely in Iraq, David Mogeson, an investment banker who joined up after 9/11, befriends Raneen, a female interpreter. Back home on leave, he is bored by his longtime girlfriend and overwhelmed by a lifestyle of privilege, but when he returns to Iraq (and fantasies of building something with Raneen), he discovers she's been kidnapped, an all-too-common fate for interpreters. Fallon reveals the mostly hidden world of life on base for military families, and offers a powerful, unsentimental portrait of America at war.

A fresh look at the Iraq war as it plays out on the domestic front.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451234391
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
137,589
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Benjamin Percy
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)
Tanya Biank
"A brilliant work of fiction that speaks a haunting truth on every page. This is an important work that should be embraced by the military community and beyond." --(Tanya Biank, Author of Army Wives, the basis for the Lifetime TV drama Army Wives)
Nathaniel Fick
"Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men are Gone is a haunting elegy to those who bear the real burden when our nation goes to war: the spouses and children left behind. She writes with the authority of hard-earned experience, and this collection of stories has much to teach us all."--(Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer)
Jean Kwok
“Siobhan Fallon is a remarkable debut author whose first collection of short stories, YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, signals the debut of a new American talent. I was drawn into a world I had never seen before, and found heartache, courage, and laughter there.” --(Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation)
From the Publisher
"Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Dani Shapiro
"In this poignant and beautiful collection of linked stories, Siobhan Fallon has created a world of characters we need to know. These are our wounded, our courageous, our disheartened, our cynical and our brave. You won't read these stories on the front pages of the newspaper, but still they feel like a news flash about the emotional toll of war. YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE delivers to us the inner lives of families who fight for our country while fighting their own deepest fears and demons. This is a brave and illuminating book."--( Dani Shapiro, author of DEVOTION )
Jill Ciment
"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, author of The Tattoo Artist)

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