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There is grace in this collection, as well as willed forgiveness and valiant attempts at understanding. But mostly there is pain, of the ignoble sort. A steely thread running through these stories is the hard truth about modern military domestic life: In the endless grind of deployments, upheavals and uncertainty, there are more casualties than we can count.

Marriages falter, vows get smashed into dust, suspicions simmer, children suffer. The story "Leave," in which a warrant officer sneaks home from Iraq and breaks into the basement of his own house to spy on his wife, is one of this collection's most powerful stories. He lurks below, wondering if she's cheating on him, wondering what he will do once he finds out. The takeaway from the story, and all the others, is this: When the men come home, the real battles begin. And if the war doesn't kill you, the fiery reentry just might. Painfully authentic Army stories.

In that way, I thought this book was very politically correct and is that something a real writer can ever afford to be? Like some other reviewers have said, I too felt like the stories were a little repetitive of one another.

You Know When the Men Are Gone

Sure, these are linked stories and some things should be coming up again, but the themes, the messages, even the characters seemed to be very similar. I didn't really feel like I was getting anything new after reading the first few. I also wonder why the author chose to tell so many of these stories from the male soldiers' povs. She has a unique experience of living on base, being a wife who is left behind in this strange world when all the men leave, and yet, instead of exploring different aspects of those characters, she chose to go with the men, the more typical war stories.

The ones she chose to tell about the women--such as the first one--were clearly the strongest. I do feel like maybe I'm being a little too harsh on the writer and clearly many people do like these stories quite a bit including Alan Heathcock, a writer whose latest collection I really admire, so go figure. I would give this writer a second chance and would be interested to see what she would write if she moved away from this subject matter.

Feb 28, Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing. As I closed the book after reading the last story in You Know When the Men Are Gone, I couldn't help thinking that you also know when an important new talent has emerged on the literary scene. Because Siobhan Fallon simply blew me away with these eight interrelated pieces which detail with a near surgical precision exactly what it is like - how it feels - to be part of the all-volunteer army that continues to fight our so-called "war on terror" thousands of miles away on the other side of our ev As I closed the book after reading the last story in You Know When the Men Are Gone, I couldn't help thinking that you also know when an important new talent has emerged on the literary scene.

Because Siobhan Fallon simply blew me away with these eight interrelated pieces which detail with a near surgical precision exactly what it is like - how it feels - to be part of the all-volunteer army that continues to fight our so-called "war on terror" thousands of miles away on the other side of our ever-shrinking planet.

Every story in this jewel-like collection contains at least one moment - and often more - which will bring the hot sting of unshed tears to your eyes, if indeed you succeed in containing those tears. Because Fallon has succeeded in showing you another side of the wars, the hidden costs on the home front, which test, stretch, and often destroy military families.

And these are young families, obviously - men and women, many barely out of their teens, who should be enjoying each other and their young children and babies. Instead they are faced with long and lonely separations, followed by reunions ruined by the unexplainable depressions, black rages and abberant behavior that are the unmistakable markers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

While reading Fallon's stories I kept trying to think of other books I might have read which deal with the wives' stories. All that came to mind was the currently-running TV series, Army Wives, which my wife and I watch every week. I know it is based on a book, but we have not read it.

Then I thought of a book from another war, Tim Farrington's moving and beautiful novel, Lizzie's War, which utilized shifting viewpoints, moving back and forth between the marine combatant in the Vietnam jungle and his wife and children back home in the States. Fallon's book easily equals that accomplishment. Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge also came to mind, mostly because that novel too is rendered as a group of interrelated stories with the title character as the unifying element. In Fallon's book what unites the stories is not a single character, but a much larger entity, the army.

And also, of course, the war, with its continuing deployments and separations, which eat away at the foundations of all those still-new, young and vulnerable marriages and relationships.


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Strout's book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I have a feeling that Fallon's book will also win its share of prizes. Finally, I think You Know When the Men Are Gone should become required reading for the decision makers in Washington, from the President and Secretary of Defense all the way on down the chain of command, both civilian and military. It's probably naive of me to think this, but perhaps, having read these stories of heartbreak and misery, they would not be so quick to vote for war.

It should also be read by every active duty soldier - in all branches of service.

It would promote a better understanding of the lot of the women they leave behind every time they deploy. I guess I'm saying that the book deserves an extremely wide audience, because this slim volume of stories could - should - reverberate in our country for years to come. I give this book my unqualified and highest recommendation. Jun 12, Kathleen rated it really liked it. A well-crafted collection of short stories about soldiers and their wives back at Fort Hood. The stories are threaded together, but not in a distracting or forced way.

I would have welcomed twice as many stories to have more time with these characters. Fallon's spare and devastating stories show us people losing each other, losing limbs, losing their lives and more than that, shows us how hard it is to live at all when you wake up every morning fearing loss in a way that blots out virtually A well-crafted collection of short stories about soldiers and their wives back at Fort Hood.

Book review, 'You Know When the Men Are Gone': Painfully authentic Army stories

Fallon's spare and devastating stories show us people losing each other, losing limbs, losing their lives and more than that, shows us how hard it is to live at all when you wake up every morning fearing loss in a way that blots out virtually everything else. I didn't read the author blurb on the jacket until I had read a couple of stories, but I was sure she lived on base, because it was all so spot on, every detail exactly right. I didn't look at the author's picture or read her bio because I thought this was the comedian Siobhan Fallon from SNL and Seinfeld fame.

Initially, I was confused, thinking "Gee, this isn't funny at all.

Dec 20, Melissa Rochelle rated it liked it Shelves: I can admit to being unsure about this book. I didn't think I would be able to connect with any of the stories because I'm not the wife of anyone, much less the wife of a soldier. However, I was hooked after the first story. Beautifully written, with many voices and viewpoints. It provides a glimpse into the lives of our soldiers and their families and allows the reader to understand even if just as an outsider the sacrifices the soldiers AND their wives make to protect our country.

I read this a few years ago and I am thinking about reading it again as I enjoyed it so much. I just finished this book for the second time and its excellent. Her depiction of military life is right on target. 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 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 pri 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.

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: 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.

As Fallon shows us, the time in limbo is often marked with dread and confusion. It can be a powerful change agent, mushroom their fear, or injure self-esteem, to name a few effects. It can dash a formerly positive body image, especially if anxiety and loneliness create eye bags and a gaunt complexion.

The women in her stories often have sleep disturbances and eat erratically. One woman quells her insomnia by listening to her neighbor's routines through the permeable walls. In the first story, Meg goes to the Commissary, eyes a raw slab of steak--the rivulets of fat, the sanguinary juices, the protruding bone--and imagines a mortal battle wound. The women wake up every morning and scan the Internet news for reports of ambushes and roadside bombs, wondering if their husbands are safe in their quarters or unrecognizably shattered in numberless pieces. Meanwhile, they have individual, separate concerns.

Fallon kicks it up a notch with her story about a wife in remission from breast cancer, waiting to see the latest reports of her medical tests. In the meantime, her kids did not show up for school, and she has to deal with the embarrassment of soldiers on base assisting, investigating, and scrutinizing her actions that day. And, what is it like to communicate with your loved one only through technology, to feel the unbearable absence of touch?

To wait, and wait, time folding in on itself, or rolling out, while you cleave, living on emails, snail mail, and the rare skype. And, even when they return, the complex dynamics of adjustment and role reversal are stunning; the wives have been independent for so long that sharing a life again can be raw and awkward. Instead of joyful and warm, it may be glacial and fraught with erosion. All that alone time carves out multiple reflections and haunting desires.

At least one wife has some lacerating news for her returning and wounded husband. And, what is it like for the men, the soldiers and officers who have bravely committed this time to the safety and well being of their fellow infantrymen? They didn't sign up to divide their loyalties, to betray their families, but the quixotic beast of war invades the frontier of domestic life, too.

READERS GUIDE

Some of them sneak cell phones into their camp. One of the soldiers becomes enchanted with a comely foreign interpreter while on a mission to search for IEDs Improvised Explosive Devices. Another soldier isn't sure if he is just paranoid or failed to perceive his wife's change of heart, and acts frantically on his fears.

And some of them don't make it home. For those wives, it is the pain of the unknown, the moment of death that is now gone, that took their husband away. That image, the memories, and the disfigurement of grief remain. Imagine, all alone, with a flashlight, tiptoeing in the dark inside a squat, yellow, dusty rectangular building, suddenly bumping up against a life.

You emit a startled gasp. That's what these stories are like. Fallon's prose is stark and incandescent. There are no frills or filler necessary to embellish these candid characters and situations, and I have only hinted at a few. These are bracing mini-portraits with mega-wattage. When you hear Fort Hood mentioned in the news again, it will palpate with familiarity. You'll feel a jolt. It will never again be just that abstract military post in Texas. You'll know when the men are gone. This review is based on an advanced reading copy I received from the publisher in a lottery giveaway. I was not asked to write a review or praise this book.

Rather, I was compelled by the piercing and captivating stories themselves. See my full review on mostlyfiction. Dec 30, Peacegal rated it really liked it Shelves: This is an intelligently-written collection of short stories, all set on the same military base. I think my book group members will enjoy the realistic slices-of-life, peppered with real-life places and events. There is a massive cliffhanger at the conclusion of one story, which I think will likely be frustrating to readers.

Aug 06, Rebecca Rasmussen rated it it was amazing. Fallon follows the lives of women with children, women with cancer, women who can't bear another night of sleeping alone between flypaper walls. Some of Fallon's women find courage in the others left behind, some take comfort in a past without war -- in their memories, their Hawaii's, their first true loves. All have a sense that real life stops the moment the men board the busses and leave Fort Hood. You Know When the Men Are Gone is a poignant debut, written with the kind of love and detailed accuracy that can only come from living behind the barbed wire at Fort Hood, as Siobhan Fallon has.

You'll laugh with her characters and you'll cry with them. Like them, you'll try to add up what it's all worth. Turn off the news and pick up this book. You won't be disappointed. Nov 24, Tara Chevrestt rated it it was amazing Shelves: The author has done a superb job of capturing military life, both from the POV of spouses waiting at home and the soldier's risking their lives everyday in combat.

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon - Reading Guide - efycymepodor.tk

Also brings to light the difficulties soldier's face trying re adjust to life back at home. Jan 23, Cynthia rated it really liked it Shelves: These related short stories depict Army life from the eyes of mostly the women left at home. Some of the marriages were hastily put together prior to deployment or quickly assembled to wives met while on deployment, others are well established relationships, all emphasize how hard it is to be apart so often and for so long as the war in the Middle East continues on. Fallon illustrates how hard it is to miss out on the day to day, the ordinary, whether that concerns raising the children, the lo These related short stories depict Army life from the eyes of mostly the women left at home.

Fallon illustrates how hard it is to miss out on the day to day, the ordinary, whether that concerns raising the children, the loss of a pregnancy, illness, or infidelities, some real, others imagined. The not knowing on both sides is their common enemy. Fallon does a great job showing the unknowing general public what these military families go through.

Nov 16, Elizabeth Marro rated it it was amazing. I can't find the letter I wrote to Siobhan Fallon after reading her collection of stories but I can remember how I felt when I came up on her stories and her writing: Although loosely connected, each story brings me deep inside the mind and hearts of military spouses, the men who are deployed, and the full range of the challenges that rise from the choices they have made. In one that touched me deeply, a woman struggles with her adolescent daughter as she copes with the news that her c I can't find the letter I wrote to Siobhan Fallon after reading her collection of stories but I can remember how I felt when I came up on her stories and her writing: In one that touched me deeply, a woman struggles with her adolescent daughter as she copes with the news that her cancer might be worsening and her husband, who is responsible for the lives and welfare of his soldiers, is caring but out of reach.

Jan 15, Jill rated it it was amazing Shelves: That void has just been masterfully filled. Fallon creates characters that are so authentic, so genuine, that the reader almost feels voyeuristic by peering into their world.


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In this world, there are extramarital affairs, physical and mental health crises, teenage rebellion, financial stresses, even scrapes with the law. In Camp Liberty, an investment-banker-turned-soldier experiences the clash of the soft and narcissistic life he yearns to return to and the realities of his battle life. His friendship with an Iraqi female interpreter offers him a rude awakening about what he really needs. In the most chilling story, Leave, an intelligence officer is convinced his wife is unfaithful and performs a reconnaissance, staking out his own basement.

In your own life? Do you think Siobhan Fallon attempted to do that with this collection? If you think so, did she succeed? In the same story, toward the end, Fallon writes: She bit her lip and wondered if this was the sum of a marriage: Which is your favorite story, and why? What other themes do the stories share? LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices.