You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone

by Siobhan Fallon

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Overview

“Gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families. . . simple, tough, and true.”—The New York Times

“Prose that's brave and honest.”—People

“Terrific. . . and terrifically illuminating.”The Washington Post

An award-winning story collection from the author of The Confusion of Languages.

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 talent of tremendous note.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451234391
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/03/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 372,635
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Siobhan Fallon is the author of the novel The Confusion of Languages and the short story collection You Know When the Men Are Gone, which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction, the Indies Choice Honor Award, and the Texas Institute of Letters Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Military SpouseThe Huffington Post, and NPR’s Morning Edition, among others. She and her family moved to Jordan in 2011, and they currently live in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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)

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return to Fort Hood, Texas. As Siobhan Fallon shows in this collection of loosely interconnected short stories, each woman deals with her husband's absence differently. One wife, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the risks her husband faces in Iraq, develops an unhealthy obsession with the secret life of her neighbor. Another woman's simple trip to the PX becomes unbearable when she pulls into her Gold Star parking space. And one woman's loneliness may lead to dire consequences when her husband arrives home. In gripping, no-nonsense stories that will leave you shaken, Siobhan Fallon allows you into a world tightly guarded by gates and wire. It is a place where men and women cling to the families they have created as the stress of war threatens to pull them apart.



ABOUT SIOBHAN FALLON

Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband, an Army major, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City. She lives with her family in Monterey, California.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • In the first story, "You Know When the Men Are Gone," why does the narrator develop such an obsession with her neighbor? While it turns out that Natalya is worthy of Meg's scrutiny, is it easier for Meg to be a nosy neighbor than for her to focus on the danger her husband faced overseas?
  • Infidelity is a recurring theme in many of the stories. Did this surprise you?
  • Most of the stories take place in Fort Hood. Why do you think "Camp Liberty" is included in the collection if it takes place in Iraq? Is it in keeping with the other stories?
  • In "Camp Liberty," "Leave," and "The Last Stand," the main characters are men. Does that change the feel from the rest of the collection, which is primarily from a female point of view?
  • Many of the stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone are about the relationships between men and women. How would these stories change if the protagonists were flipped? If, say, "Inside the Break" was told from Manny's point of view instead of Kailani's? Or if "Leave" followed Trish instead of Nick?
  • In "The Last Stand," why does Helena sleep with Kit in the hotel room? Do you find her sympathetic?
  • In "Remission," Ellen feels that she is pitied by the other wives because of her cancer, but considered lucky because her husband has not been deployed. Does either of these circumstances outweigh the other? Is there a sliding scale of "tragedy" and "luck" in the lives of the families in Fort Hood? In your own life?
  • "Inside the Break" mentions pamphlets with such titles as "Roadmap to Reintegration," "What to Expect When Deployed Soldiers Return," and "Communicating with Your Spouse." Is it possible to sum up, in writing, the vast emotional landscape that families and soldiers experience upon the soldiers' return? Do you think Siobhan Fallon attempted to do that with this collection? If you think so, did she succeed?
  • What do you think the husband does at the end of "Leave"?
  • In "You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming," the sign refers to drunk driving, but do you think the author intends it as a metaphor for more?
  • In the same story, toward the end, Fallon writes: "Their fate depended on whether Carla walked out of the room with the baby or stood next to her husband. She bit her lip and wondered if this was the sum of a marriage: wordless recriminations or reconciliations, every breath either striving against or toward the other person, each second a decision to exert or abdicate the self." Do you agree with this take on marriage? Or do you think it's applicable only under extreme circumstances?
  • Which is your favorite story, and why?
  • Obviously the stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone are tied together by Fort Hood. What other themes do the stories share?
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