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Falcons on the Floor Paperback – April 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Falcons on the Floor is a solid first novel … an engrossing and compassionate read. --Bret McCabe, Baltimore City Paper

Falcons on the Floor is the rare novel about war that re-humanizes everyone involved. --Dahr Jamail, independent journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone

A lyrical and sensuous poem, an astonishing and mesmerizing book. --Alphonso Lingis, philosopher and author of The First Person Singular and Body Transformations

About the Author

Justin Sirois lives in Baltimore, Maryland. His books of poetry include Silver Standard (NewLights Press) and Secondary Sound (BlazeVOX [books]). He published "deleted scenes" from FALCONS ON THE FLOOR as MLKNG SCKLS (Publishing Genius) in 2009. His novel DMBSTRCK is slated for release from Dark Sky Books in 2013.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Publishing Genius Press; first edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983170649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983170648
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,846,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Justin Sirois is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. His most recent books include So Say the Waiters, MLKNG SCKLS, Falcons on the Floor, and The Last Book of Baghdad (forthcoming) written with Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy as well as The Heads (forthcoming from Newlights Press). Justin has received several individual Maryland State Art Council grants and a Baker "b" grant in 2011.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mel Bosworth on March 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
In his powerful and methodical novel, Sirois guides the reader on a three-day trek from Fallujah to Ramadi as two young Iraqis attempt to elude the violence that has become entrenched in their lives. Spurred by his desire to slip away from his contract work as a designer of propaganda for the Fedayeen--and to contact a woman he only knows via the internet--Salim prepares to set out on what he believes will be a solo journey until his longtime friend Khalil insists on accompanying him. Khalil has also done contract work for the Fedayeen, though mostly grunt work, and he is an accidental celebrity of sorts--he appears in a widely circulated photograph showing two brutally massacred men. Their journey takes them alongside the Euphrates River past ravaged vehicles and ravaged lives with Sirois zooming in and out of the minds of his characters as he deftly moves between first and third person narration. Throughout, Sirois strings a web of grand tension as the reader is constantly reminded, despite and even within the levity between the characters, that death is imminent. In the distance, motionless shapes become men with weapons. The water of the snaking Euphrates River while refreshing to one man grows poisonous to the other. Within the grand tension of the war that Sirois has wonderfully captured, there are great moments of tension built on smaller more personal scales for the characters. Alas, this tension too often dissipates because it's never exploited, and a towering obstacle like crossing the Euphrates in an aged rowboat, for example, is too easily overcome. However, it's a small gripe for this meticulously crafted tale, and in the final third of the novel Sirois quickens the pace, the danger, and so too the pulse of the reader.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tyler on November 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
There's a kind leisurely gravity to Sirois's writing that is very hard to come by. The novel's plot is fantastic, following the journey of two Iraqi refugees in search of the internet, but where Sirois really shines is his treatment of the mundane. He manages to take little things... toilet paper, bottle caps, battery usage... and craft a complex and compelling friendship that you hardly believe exists before it grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. Seldom have I felt so invested in a novel's characters, or realized that a title is quite so apt. Falcons on the Floor is a beautiful and convicting read, and has changed the way I'll think about global conflicts. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Newgent on March 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Falcons follows the trail of two Fallujan refugees, Kahlil and Salim, who flee the city before the Coalition forces first lay siege on the city. They make their way up the Euphrates River to Ramadi. Salim wants to find the Internet, to connect with a girl, to say "I'm alive." Kahlil just doesn't want to die for a cause he's not sure he believes in.

In the hands of many others, this story at this point in history could easily become politicized, polarized (War is evil! or The jingos ate your baby, or America F yeah!), but Sirois manages to tell the story without a lean. He tells it on its human terms. The characters are affected by the war, of course, and the war acts as an impetus for many of their actions, but this novel isn't about the war; the war is merely its horrific background, a circumstance at most, a thing that humans do and that makes humans do things, whether brave or cowardly or both.

This book isn't without its flaws, of course. There are some mechanics towards the end that get a little loose, a few moments where a slip in narrative affected my ability to be fully immersed in the story. There are some typos. Okay. And these things I'm sure lessened the book's impact to a small degree. To Sirois's credit, he was managing some complicated shifts, and to Publishing Genius's credit, this was the first novel they've undertaken. But I hope if or when you go to read this book, you'll show grace, you'll understand how even the most important things can go unpolished.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Beck on July 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sirois' willingness to change forms was a key to winning me over. After a prolog set in America, the first section of the novel hovers in a limited omniscience following Salim and Khalil. The second section is where the novel takes off, when we move from the more traditional narration to an epistolary style seen through the computer diary entries written by Salim during the journey.

It should come as no surprise that when two characters take off to escape the Iraq War, the war is going to find them. This novel is Chekov's gun on steroids. What Sirois pulls off in Falcons on the Floor's third act is an ending unlike any war novel I've read since The Things They Carried. I don't offer that praise lightly.

No spoilers here, except to say that once the bullets start flying the ending is not what you expect.

My full review is here: [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CarlaJeanV on December 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
Five hours were all it took to unzip me completely, just as five rounds had unzipped one man's shoulder and chest in the end . . .

FALCONS ON THE FLOOR, Justin Sirois' novel about two friends on a journey both toward and away from a terrible unknown, has left me in a cold sweat, thankful to be alone in the house so as not to have to speak until these words can climb out onto this page. I want to honor this work the way the work itself honors those whom many would prefer be kept anonymous.

There is an ease to such an anonymity, a false comfort which allows us--human beings in general--a margin in which to marginalize others. Sirois has managed to cull the opposite, aided by one with the first-hand experiences "providing an authenticity that would have otherwise been impossible", and this I believe sets Falcons apart from so many similar endeavors.

The story begins so far from where it ends, and yet the pointed pacing carries us from chapter to chapter unquestioningly, thirsting along with the characters for the seeming sanctuary of Ramadi. Eight kilometers outside of that city, we encounter along with them what turns out to be an angel (for lack of a better term) of sorts, the commander of a tractor, a woman who has christened herself "un-mothered" and threatens to "un-mother anyone who speaks of it." Did you feel it, the way every follicle in your dermis just constricted?

The poet is in evidence throughout. The poetry winds, much like the Euphrates itself, seemingly clear and safe yet full of grit and disease, at times raging and at other times almost still, between the "crooked teeth", in symbiosis with the seamless landscape of surrounding prose. Culminating without ending, just as any experience of war is wont to do, we are left wondering. How else could the resonance echo . . . how else would we be forced to put ourselves into those too-tight polished dress shoes of a stranger, using the blade of a bayonet as a shoe horn?
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