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You Know When the Men Are Gone Hardcover – January 20, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (January 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399157204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157202
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review

"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


More About the Author

Siobhan Fallon is the author of You Know When the Men Are Gone, which was listed as a Best Book of 2011 by The San Francisco Chronicle, Self Magazine, Los Angeles Public Library, Janet Maslin of The New York Times, and won a 2012 Indies Choice Honor Award, the Texas Institute of Letters Award for First Fiction, and the 2012 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. Her collection of stories about the families of Fort Hood, Texas, during an Army brigade's deployment to Iraq, has been called "the explosive sort of literary triumph that appears only every few years" by New York Journal of Books, "a terrific and terrifically illuminating book" by The Washington Post, a "searing collection" by Entertainment Weekly, and "fascinating" by O, The Oprah Magazine. Theatrical productions of her stories include performances by Word for Word in San Francisco and Stories on Stage in Denver. More of Siobhan's work has appeared in Women's Day, Good Housekeeping, New Letters, Publishers' Weekly, NPR's The Morning Edition, Huffington Post, and she writes a fiction series for Military Spouse Magazine. Siobhan has an MFA from the New School in NYC. For more about Siobhan, please go to: www.siobhanfallon.com

"...gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories" The New York Times


"There is the war we know - from Hollywood and CNN- and then there is the battleground at home depicted by breakout author Siobhan Fallon, an army wife with...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

"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 deepest fears and demons. This is a brave and illuminating book."
-- Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

"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: 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

"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 Heroic Measures

"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

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Customer Reviews

The stories are so real and the characters are well developed.
M. Buckley
The author has a wonderful writing style with smoothly flowing words and quickly developed characters.
Leslie
The best thing about reading this book is that is makes you want more at the end of the stories.
Brian Schneider

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In this terse and bold book of eight interconnected stories featuring Fort Hood army wives, breakout author Siobhan Fallon invites readers to peek through the hazy base-house curtains into largely uncharted territory. She offers an intimate glimpse of the spouses and children left behind to cope when the men in the infantry battalion of 1-7 Cav are deployed to Iraq.

We've seen media pictures proffering the stalwart strength and Mona Lisa smiles of army wives, but we haven't been host to their private trials--of farewells, homecomings, and transitions. Fallon captures their mixed emotions and fears with a gritty realism, and reveals critical, vital moments in their insular and marginal lives. She glances sharply into the tearful deployment, the lonely absence, and the stirring homecoming. How the wives cope with these changes is a recurring theme.

This is fiction, but Fallon writes with authority: her husband, a major, was deployed in Iraq for two tours of duty while she lived in Fort Hood. She knows the depth of the cookie-cutter, thin-walled houses--they are occupied by courageous and terrified women with thick skins, empty beds, and tentative thoughts.

The wives in this book form a proxy family together, the FRG (Family Readiness group), where, for better or worse, they convene and connect. They bond in this dry and desolate patch of Central Texas, support each other, and wait for news of the front. Mingling with civilians off base is distressing. It's painful to watch a dad knock around a ball with his son, or a couple dining out and dancing cheek to cheek. Some of these wives have babies who haven't yet met their daddies. How they endure the complex emotions of separation drives the narrative and compels the reader.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on January 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE is a terrific collection of eight short stories that are linked through a shared setting of Fort Hood, Texas, its soldiers who are deployed to Iraq, and their spouses and families who stay behind.

The first story sets up military domestic life and its too-closeness to neighbors and authority. The next follows a soldier serving outside Baghdad -- an investment banker who enlisted after 9/11. Others explore suspicions of adultery; struggling families; wounded soldiers returning early; the difficulty of re-acclimating to home; the public honor and private grief of widowhood.

They're personal stories, not political; gentle and straightforward; sober yet optimistic and some of the most engaging reading I've encountered. Their readability reminded me of Kathryn Stockett's The Help, probably no coincidence since both books are published by Penguin's Amy Einhorn imprint; they prompt me to explore the imprint's whole backlist while I await more by this author.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Buckley on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is like nothing I've read before. I learned that I do not know nearly enough about military life and the sacrifices these soldiers and families make. The families suffer far more than separation. The soldiers and their families cannot possibly pick up where they left off. Things change; people change. The book is beautifully written with crisp, tight prose-not a superfluous word. The stories are so real and the characters are well developed. "You Know When the Men are Gone" is unlike any short story collection I have read in the way that characters reappear and the characters' lives .

The first time I went to the ballet, I felt sick to my stomach because it was so beautiful and something totally new and it moved me so much; I felt that way reading "You Know When the Men are Gone."
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Leslie VINE VOICE on January 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
You Know When The Men Are Gone is a beautifully written slender volume of short stories centering around the wives of deployed soldiers based at Ft. Hood, Texas. The stories are loosely related involving different families and different situations, but with a common thread running through each of them that highlights the emotional drain of having a spouse deployed in Iraq and away for a year.

Sometimes depressing, sometimes sad and occasionally humorous, all are written with the compassion and knowledge of someone who has been there. These are not war stories; there is no political agenda. It is a window into the lives of our military families, opened for a brief moment, giving us a glimpse of their world. Some have children, some do not, others are newly wed and barely know each other while others know each other only too well. All are moving tales and all will make you think.

I read this book quickly and then I wanted more. The author has a wonderful writing style with smoothly flowing words and quickly developed characters. It was easy to feel their emotions: loneliness, pain, obsession, suspicion, distrust. Many of the stories deal with infidelity and how difficult it is to be separated from a spouse.

Most of the stories are told from the point of view of the wives. Several are told by the men. Leave is one of the stories told by a husband who is suspicious that his wife is cheating on him. He plots and plans a way to find out the truth and carries his plan out as if it were a military mission. I found this one to be particularly haunting and powerful and am still thinking about it now. He gets his answers but we are left to wonder what he does with the information.

This is a wonderful book, a compelling look into the personal relationships of the men and women in the military, and I highly recommend it.
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