Monday, December 06, 2010

You Know When the Men Are Gone

Seldom do I finish a book in one or two sittings, but I did so with You Know When the Men Are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon. These eight short stories depict the lives of the soldiers and the left behind wives of Fort Hood, Texas. The wives have various ways of dealing with the stress, worry, and pressure of keeping their families together by themselves, while their husbands dream of coming home and live for that phone call.

Fort Hood is a world within itself, and the families circle together closely, acting as a temporary family, supporting each other. They live under the same rules and are in many ways a tightknit community. Despite the closeness and support, though, they are also isolated from the outside world and tend to move on every couple years. The future is never certain.

Each story has a different narrator and its own sets of stressors. One story takes place in Iraq, but the rest happen in Fort Hood. Some stories are told from a wife's point of view, some from the soldier's, but all show extreme emotional anguish. Some kind of doubt haunts them all, and none of the stories are resolved. Fallon has left them open-ended, for our consideration. I found them all riveting. Once I'd started a story, I couldn't put it down. A great book for discussion, and I would recommend it to anyone.

* I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program.


Faycin A Croud said...

When I was young I often used to read an entire book in 2-3 hours. I don't have that kind of concentration any more. The last book I read in two sittings because I couldn't put it down was Motley Crue: The Dirt. Which actually did not glamorize the band or the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle but nor did it condemn them. It was their own assessment of themselves and the things that had happened in their lives and I think that's why I liked it so well. It was a book about four very human guys, not about four rock stars.

Doug said...

That sounds like a book worth reading even if took three days. Doubt, I'm starting to think, is the thing we have the most trouble remembering.

Doug said...

Oh, and I think you have a typo in the title.

TLP said...

Yep. I wondered at first you you meant to do a play-on-words with your title, but I think not.

Another good review!

actonbell said...

Faycin, The Dirt is an excellent title:)

Oh, thanks Doug & TLP. Don't know how I didn't notice that! Pretty funny

Anonymous said...

Thank you Acton Bell/ Growler!!! So glad you enjoyed the book and I really appreciate your taking the time to post about it.
Yay to Library Things's Early Reviewer's Program :)
All the best,
Siobhan Fallon

actonbell said...

You're most welcome, Ms. Fallon:) I love the ER Program, too.