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You Know When the Men Are Gone

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,660 ratings  ·  1,045 reviews
Reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Tim O'Brien, an unforgettable collection of interconnected short stories.

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published January 20th 2011 by Putnam Adult
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Will Byrnes
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Set in Fort Hood, Texas, Siobhan Fallon’s eight stories revolve around the separation between military men posted in Iraq and their loved ones back home. These are powerful, moving stories. Every day the women left behind wonder if this is the day they get the worst possible news, and fear as well that their men are unfaithful abroad. The men in combat constantly worry about whether they will have families to return to, and sometimes they wonder if they want to return to the families or relation ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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"In my stories...I wanted to capture the moments that lead up to a deployment as well as those that follow a return. And I wanted to focus not only on the soldiers fighting on the front lines but also on the families that wait at home and try their best to stay intact, try their best to find everything they need within those guarded gates." –Siobhan Fallon

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories. I was born and raised in a city that houses the largest Army installation in the United S
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Yeah, the smart ass in me wants to say, "You know when the men are gone because battery sales go through the roof." BUT, that would be a great injustice to this terrific book of stories about life for those serving in and "married to" the US military. From a soldier counting the days until he can get the hell out of Iraq, to the women who simply wait for a loved one's safe return, Fallon has captured the wide range of emotions and temptations faced by those in this unique situation.

How difficul
Jun 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
These eight linked short stories of wives and children left behind at Fort Hood Army base in Texas, by troops deployed to Iraq, pulled me immediately into the tension, worry, suspicion, loneliness, and grief experienced by these women, a world I hadn't come across much in my previous reading. Fallon knows whereof she speaks, having lived this life at the base during her husband's two deployments, and the stories carry the weight of hard earned truth. I was glad to be reading them over Memorial D ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Here is the fan mail I sent to Siobhan Fallon:

Dear Siobhan Fallon, Yesterday I read your book. Today, in between the depressing news in the New York Times and the trivial news in the Chicago Tribune, I read it again. I've already recommended it to four people and will recommend it to many more (I'm a librarian, however, so don't get too excited about sales). The stories are so simple and so powerful. I was awake a good part of last night thinking about them. The characters are real and hauntin
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I wish I had better feelings about this story. I wanted to like it, and I think that the writer's ability is evident, but these stories all felt very "surface" to me. Yes, they talk about the emotions of the wives, the emotions of the men deployed, but they never felt like they pushed anything. Pardon the non-literary reference, but if this were American Idol, Simon Cowell would call all these stories quite safe. I'm not sure how this was possible, but this woman wrote an entire collection of st ...more
Timothy Bazzett
Feb 28, 2012 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 ...more
Jun 12, 2011 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.

Ms. 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
switterbug (Betsey)
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 pri
Melissa Rochelle
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. ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The other night we were playing bingo at a 55+ community, and the caller asked the vets to stand and be thanked for their service since Veterans Day was a few weeks ago. Everyone clapped. Then a woman asked for all the wives to stand and I bet 75% of the women stood in a room of 200. It makes you realize that the women carry a heavy load too! (on top of living longer than the men)

I like short stories to begin with, and also historical fiction. As I was reading these (about soldiers deployed from
Rebecca Rasmussen
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In You Know When the Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon writes with grace and intelligence about the army wives at Fort Hood who are waiting for their men to return from Iraq. 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 tha ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. Also brings to light the difficulties soldier's face trying re adjust to life back at home. For full review:

Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
This book had amazing reviews, stunning to the point I fully expected this to be one of the best books I’ve read in years. This is a format (linked short stories) that, when done right, I love. Furthermore, as these stories involve military families stationed at Ft. Hood, I expected the tales to be both evocative and unique. While I completely admire the women who keep it together when husbands are deployed (nothing short of heroic), these stories fell flat. The characters are so formulaic and I ...more
Alex Templeton
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
This collection features stories about the citizens of Fort Hood, Texas--in particular, the wives waiting for their husbands to come home from year-long deployments to Iraq. While I definitely felt that I got a window into a completely different way of life from my own (and all my best wishes are sent to the real-life counterparts of these story characters), I went away from this collection feeling more of an emotional connection to the condition the characters were in rather than the characters ...more
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Elizabeth Marro
Nov 16, 2015 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: grateful. 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 ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Years ago, William Tecumseh Sherman famously said, “War is hell.” Certainly, there has been an incredible canon of war literature that has focused on soldiers fighting on the battlefield and facing tough homecomings. But, to my knowledge, there has been no book that has powerfully shone the spotlight on the families – non-enlistees who experience “small and fragile” moments.

That void has just been masterfully filled. In a haunting and downright electrifying debut, Sioban Fallon takes us to Fort
Mikey B.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A very strong series of poignant stories, on for the most part, military wives who are left alone as their husbands go off to war. The style is minimalist and very character driven. I feel the author has a strong feeling of the reality of raising and coping with children. She reveals well how these women cope and struggle with their long absent mates. None of them are perfect and are never quite in balance with their positive and negative forces.

We are revealed the different “tribal” interaction
Matthew J. Hefti
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is an incredible work of art in its own right, but You Know When the Men Are Gone should be mandatory reading for all active duty soldiers. As those who deploy and return and deploy and return, we often pay lip service to those on the home front, but our understanding of the struggles of our wives and families back home are often far too superficial to have any value. This book illuminates the very real struggles and hardships endured by loved ones, without whom those in uniform would ...more
A look inside the lives of military families before, during and after deployment. My already great appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military and their families grew exponentially because of this book. Siobhan Fallon honors them with her collection of stories. Cassandra Campbell's narration is perfect. ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reads
I don't know how this rates with someone who has been there. I have family who have deployed but I am not a wife of a soldier. That being said, I felt that these stories were faithful representations and was awed by the work. ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 fictional 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
Emily Crowe
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
You Know When the Men Are Gone, a debut work from Siobhan Fallon, is a collection of loosely related short stories told mostly from the point of view of the women left behind at the army base of Fort Hood, TX, when their men deploy. (And yes, in this book it is invariably women who are left behind.) Unlike, for example, Olive Kitteridge or In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, which are really more novels told in stories, Fallon's stories are more disjointed, and though the theme of waiting is carried ...more
This set of eight short stories focuses on the absence of a partner who is away at war. The absence itself is both a lack and a constant presence in the lives of their loved ones, and families cope (or don't) in different ways. Set mainly in the community of Fort Hood among the loved ones left behind, these stories shine light on an aspect of American life that is both very contemporary and very eternal.

I really enjoyed this book. I sat down with it and found myself completely absorbed, to the
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A glimpse of military life in Fort Hood...dedicated women waiting patiently and fearfully for dedicated men to return, and dedicated men and women wondering what it will be like when they do return.

Will things be the way they were before, will it take a while to get back to the routine before separation, or will what they had be completely gone? Unless you have been there, you never know what others endure and what feelings grow or get lost when there is an extended period of absence from a love
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, 2012, e-book
A dreamy half-lost gaze of a story collection - really, a novel broken into pieces. It dragged at me and pulled me under. I dreamt myself into that world -- it is our shared world, the world of soldiers gone from home and weapons and bombings -- but not my world, not my reality.

Some fragments were more solid than others. The interpreter. The man at the window. The injured foot. Meg. All of this happening simultaneously and still within its own time, as one holds memory; it is no surprise that th
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Wilson County Pub...: February 2017 Read 1 4 Feb 15, 2017 08:46AM  

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Siobhan Fallon is the author of the PEN Center USA Literary Fiction Award winning short story collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone, as well as the novel, The Confusion of Languages. Her essays and stories have been featured in the anthologies Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, and The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers, as well as New York Times Modern Love, Washington Post Magazin ...more

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  The glint of fangs in the dark, the sound of tap-tap-tapping at your window, the howling of wind (or is it just wind?) in the trees...that's...
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“After a dazed moment, Specialist Kit Murphy put his arms loosely around her, and Josie Schaeffer clung to him, knowing this man was not her husband, that her husband was never coming back, but for now she was as close to him as she could get and she would not let him go.” 2 likes
“The FRG … was the closest thing any of them had to family, this simulacrum of friendship, women suddenly thrown together in a time of duress, with no one to depend on but each other, all of them bereft and left behind in this dry expanse of central Texas, walled in by strip malls, chain restaurants, and highways that led to better places. Most of them had gotten used to making life for themselves without a husband, finding doctors and dentists and playgrounds, filling their cell phones with numbers and their calendars with playdates, and then the husbands would return and the Army would toss them all at some other base in the middle of nowhere to begin again.” 2 likes
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