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You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone

Written by Siobhan Fallon

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell


You Know When the Men Are Gone

Written by Siobhan Fallon

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

ratings:
4/5 (50 ratings)
Length:
5 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 20, 2011
ISBN:
9781452670386
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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 up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.



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, 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.



Track listing for You Know When the Men Are Gone:



Disc 1



"You Know When the Men Are Gone"-Track 1



"Camp Liberty"-Track 21



Disc 2



"Remission"-Track 15



Disc 3



"Inside the Break"-Track 7



"The Last Stand"-Track 22



Disc 4



"Leave"-Track 14



Disc 5



"You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming"-Track 6



"Gold Star"-Track 17
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 20, 2011
ISBN:
9781452670386
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood for three years while her husband, a majorin the Army, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City.


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Reviews

What people think about You Know When the Men Are Gone

4.1
50 ratings / 56 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I wasn't sure how much I'd like this book because I don't like reading about war or soldiers, but I'd heard so much about it that I decided to give it a try. I finished it in one day! The book is comprised of short stories about soldiers in Iraq and the families they leave behind. The common thread in each story is Fort Hood, where the families are stationed. The characters are all well-developed, realistic, and unlike the others. They all face very different problems in their lives, such as realizing their spouses are cheating, dealing with PTSD, and losing a spouse in battle. The writing is very clean and well-done, and the plot twists pack an emotional punch.
  • (3/5)
    It's a good series of short stories. The life of a soldier is hard and not knowing what's going on at home has to be just as difficult. The same can be said of the spouse and kids left behind--the limited amount of information given by the military, the short telephone calls or sporadic emails, and not knowing what to believe about the news sources. It's not easy for anyone on either side.

    The writing is good. Unfortunately, I felt no connection and I think it's because I've never been an army spouse or a member of the service. The situations are sad but so very realistic.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book, a series of eight short vignettes of life on a U.S. Military base as experienced by the soldiers and their wives. While it is fiction, it nevertheless is intended to give the reader an insight into the pressures, uncertainties, distrust and love that overseas deployment separation forces on its victims. Some of the stories are left unresolved and we are left to wonder. But then a good book always provides food for thought after the reader is finished. I would recommend this as a valuable short read to anyone whose family has been touched by the separation of war.I received this paperback from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    I was deeply touched by this book when I remembered the pain and uncertainty of being a military wife when my husband was deployed. The feeling of belonging to a group of wives experiencing the same fears and sharing their unique joys and challenges probably can't be understood by civilians. There is a depth of understanding of what people in the military and their families endure that I hope will resonate with those who enjoy the freedoms that are hard earned. No one wants war, especially those in the front lines. Many of my husband's West Point classmates didn't come home, and are forever deeply missed. We owe so much to those who sacrificed. I hope we never take for granted what they who serve and those who love them are doing for all of us.
  • (2/5)
    I got tired of this real quickly.
  • (4/5)
    This was a beautifully written and insightful read. I was particularly moved by Fallon's ability light yet deep portrayal of the challenges and supports for soldiers and their wives living on base and fighting in Iraq, and the diversity of their feelings. I think Fallon did a particularly excellent job of describing the tensions regarding gender and expectations in the military (both for soldiers and spouses and in portraying the youth of her characters.
  • (3/5)
    I was looking forward to reading this book, because we have been stationed in Ft. Hood, and also, my husband has been deployed many times. However, I was disappointed that the characters in the book mainly seem to only appear for one chapter. I wish that the author had developed the characters more. It seemed more like she wrote the outline for a possible TV show where each episode is centered on a different person. My husband, who also read the the book, said it felt like the first part of a trilogy, which he would read if it was published.
  • (4/5)
    This is a book that should be widely read to give everyone a glimpse into the experience of military families during the conflict in Iraq. It doesn't matter whether you agree with the war or not. It is because of these families and their unique struggles, that for many, will follow them for the rest of their lives, that people can enjoy the luxury of disagreeing. My comment on the style is only that many of the stories seemed to end very abruptly.
  • (3/5)
    Stories of families and soldiers weaved together dealing with deployment, the return home, injuries, loss, and love. An eyeopening read.
  • (4/5)
    A very important book on a topic seldom examined in serious literature -- the lives of the families left behind by people fighting in a war. Often well written -- occasionally sloppy and cliched -- but always interesting and compelling. The families are treated with compassion and respect -- but not glorified or made into cartoons of heroes. These are real people, just trying to get through the day.
  • (3/5)
    A collection of short stories about women living on base in Fort Hood, TX, none of which are related to esch other except for one. A little too whiny for me. (Blind Date with a Book)
  • (4/5)
    An elegantly written short story collection, with a unique setting (at least, I don't know of any other story collections set on a military base). I wasn't totally blown away, but on the other hand there are a couple of stories that will stay with me for a while--particularly the slightly creepy "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming" and the poignant "Inside the Break." Definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of short stories.
  • (4/5)
    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 loved one .As the book's individual stories unfolded, you could sympathize with the appealing characters and the difficult, but real situations. The reader will undeniably appreciate what military men and women have to endure away from home and what their loved ones deal with as they wait. Siobhan Fallon is an exceptionally talented storyteller. I am confident this will be a very popular book once it is published because of the subject matter and the focus of each section. The interest-rich stories kept you absorbed, but my preference is a connected story with similar characters throughout; therefore, I am going to rate the book 4/5 simply because of my personal obsession with the connectivity of a book's plot and its constant characters.
  • (4/5)
    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 loved one .As the book's individual stories unfolded, you could sympathize with the appealing characters and the difficult, but real situations. The reader will undeniably appreciate what military men and women have to endure away from home and what their loved ones deal with as they wait. Siobhan Fallon is an exceptionally talented storyteller. I am confident this will be a very popular book once it is published because of the subject matter and the focus of each section. The interest-rich stories kept you absorbed, but my preference is a connected story with similar characters throughout; therefore, I am going to rate the book 4/5 simply because of my personal obsession with the connectivity of a book's plot and its constant characters.
  • (5/5)
    So thought provoking and moving. The narration was terrific!
  • (4/5)
    I had this on my to read list for a while so I was excited to win this on Goodreads!!! I loved the book my only complaint was I wanted to read more about what happened to each of the characters. I'm even trying to get my husband to read it because I think he would enjoy it.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    I didn't think I'd like this collection of stories. I feel so strongly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have mixed feelings about the soldiers who fight there. But Siobhan's stories are beautifully written, full of complexity and humanity. I still feel the same way about the military, but I'm very glad I read these stories, and had the opportunity to hang out with these women and men for a few days.
  • (4/5)
    I found this collection of short stories interesting but frustrating. Too many unanswered questions . . . could not finish the book.
  • (4/5)
    I listened to the audiobook. I enjoyed the short story format loosely revolving around a core set of characters from Fort Hood. Some stories were focused on a soldier, others on families left behind during deployment. One memorable story was just called "Leave" which focused on a soldier home from leave hiding in his home, spying on his wife and child. I did not think I would like a book about life on the base -- but it was not really about life on a base but life under stress.
  • (3/5)
    I tend to find anthologies or collections of short stories to be somewhat of a hit and miss grab bag. I tend to find some stories that I love, others I think are terrible, and still others, I'm just somewhat indifferent towards. I found this book to continue to fall into that pattern. The stories I did love tended to be the ones I could most identify with, and those I didn't like seemed to be the ones that stretched things the furthest. Also, one of the things I tend not to like about short stories is their lack of an ending or closure - they can often times feel incomplete to me. This was the case in this book. In some of the stories, not having an ending worked. It felt realistic to the "life goes on" aspect of life, the "this was a resolution for today, but who knows what will happen tomorrow" way things go. "Remission" and "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming" are both examples of that kind of story for me, and "Remission" was probably my favorite story of the book, and the one that drew the most emotion from me. In other stories, the lack of ending seemed almost a cop-out, like the author either didn't know how to end the story, or knew how it had to end, or would have ended in real life, but was afraid to put it into writing that way. The first story, "You Know When the Men Are Gone", and "Leave" were both disappointments for me in that respect. One of the reasons I chose to read this book is that I, too, lived in Killeen, just off Fort Hood, during a major troop deployment. My brother, career military, was deployed to Iraq from Fort Hood, and so I ended up moving in with my sister-in-law in Killeen to help out, as she was just starting nursing school and had a just-turned-two-year-old. Although we did not live on post, we lived just off of it, and spent a great deal of time on post, at the homes of my sister-in-law's friends who did live on post, and running errands to the commissary, PX, etc. The vast majority of people I met were either in the military themselves, or were military spouses. While I did find some of the stories in this book to ring very true to my experiences, others seemed far more unrealistic. I don't necessarily doubt that they COULD have happened (weird things happen in the military, and unpopular as this statement may be, not ALL members of the military are honorable, trustworthy, or decent people). These stories just did not really mesh with my own observations and experience of life in Killeen and Fort Hood at that time. One of the major issues in military life is, indeed, the marital strain that occurs, and I felt for the most part, the author captures this quite well. Adultery and cheating occur frequently on both sides and, as a result of its frequency, those who may not actively participate in it generally do have a fear or paranoia that their significant other will. Even if this fear is kept in check for the most part, the smallest thing can set it off, and jealousy, rage, & suspicion will bubble up to the surface. The general stress and strain of being separated for so long, and of having such an extended, intense experience that the other person can't share in, is also something that can tear a relationship apart and that the author captures well. The wall of things left unsaid between military couples is immense and can seem like insurmountable obstacles at times. And, even with all of the changes that have occurred over the last 10 years or so, the saying is still true: if the military wanted you to have a wife & family, they would issue you one. It is something I get frustrated with on a regular basis. If you enter the military, or you marry a military member, you MUST understand that this is the way it is going to be, with all of the costs and benefits that go along with it. It's pretty easy to tell those who get it and will be in it for the long haul, and those who don't and who will be separated or divorced before even one tour of duty is up. The general ambience of the base is also something that the author captured well, although, I will say, the absence of men did not seem as pronounced to me during my time there, as the author represented it. Yes, there did seem to be a greater ratio of women to men then you might get in the civilian world, but there wasn't a complete absence of men felt, and even once the majority of the troops had returned, and I went back to visit, there didn't seem to be a sense of that many more men, just more that the scales had tipped back into balance between men and women again. The camaraderie that can develop between military spouses, combined with the distances that can still be maintained among those groups is very true to life as well. One of the things that did bother me about the book was an overall sense of helplessness or hopelessness. It was very much a downer to me, and few, if any of the stories had what I would consider a positive experience. And, as much as life, especially military life, can be negative and hard, there really are hope and happy endings to be found, and I just wish the author could have included a little bit more of that.Overall, I am glad I read the book, I guess I had just hoped for more. And, while I might recommend it to someone who does not have a connection to the military, so they can get a better feel for what it is like to live on a military base, the only reason I would recommend it to my sister-in-law is to get her perspective on how true to life she feels it is.
  • (4/5)
    I read this for a book club and while I found it interesting, I expected more. A couple of the stories left the reader hanging, which was frustrating but at the same time let the reader develop any number of alternative endings to each story. I was disappointed that no story focused on the female soldier and the challenges she faces particularly if she (and perhaps her husband as well if both are deployed) leave children behind. Perhaps this scenario will emerge in the next book by this author. It was a thought-provoking book, particularly since I read in over Memorial Day weekend.
  • (5/5)
    Good read. Made me appreciate more the struggles of military families. I liked the way the author wove the stories together by placing some characters in more than one story. It gives the reader a sense of the community.
  • (3/5)
    This series of interconnected short stories explores the lives of those men and women who make sacrifices for the sake of the U.S. Army—both the soldiers in Iraq and those they leave behind. Centered around the Army base of Ft. Hood in Texas, each story explores the all-too-common issues faced by Army families—from the death of a loved one to infidelity, from loneliness to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While some increased variation in the story’s themes might be wished—perhaps the story of a husband left behind when his wife went to war?—these short stories are sure to be fascinating to both those families who have experienced this lifestyle and those who wish to better understand the sacrifices made by our armed forces everyday.
  • (4/5)
    Normally short stories are not high on my list of appealing things to read. A few authors have managed to break through my apathy for the form though and after reading this collection of linked short stories, I'm going to add Siobhan Fallon to the list. When we see news coverage of our troops, it generally focuses on the far away places in which they are fighting, the emotional toll it takes on the men and women in uniform, or on the tragedy of their loss. Rarely do we see even a human interest story on the lives of the people they've left behind, the husbands, wives, and children who wait patiently for them on military bases around the country. Fallon's stories offer glimpses into the lives of the families who live a military life even when the men (and women) are gone.I picked this up one night and absolutely zipped through it. Beautiful and affecting, these tales of life on base after the soldiers are deployed and how they integrate back into their lives and those of their families after such extended absences are timely and well-written. The uniqueness of the army base setting and the challenges faced by our military and their families make this an unusual but important read. Tackling subjects as diverse as infidelity, loss of trust, loneliness, the ever present threat of death or disability, and the petty everyday minutia that takes on a greater significance in light of the dangers facing the husbands in these stories, the collection is unvarnished and honest.Fallon's prose in unadorned and straightforward and the stories are sometimes stark and unforgiving. The lives of the wives are threaded through with tension and anticipation, sometimes pleasant and other times terrifying. Some of the stories are a little ragged and unfinished but that reflects reality of life on base. There are no real endings, not even when a wife hears the worst, that her husband has died, just the relentless march of life moving onward. A moving look at the enormous range of sacrifices made by our military and their loved ones, this collection is well worth savoring.
  • (4/5)
    I don't usually read books about Iraq, the military, or army bases in Texas, but I was very impressed with this one. It's an interlocking collection of stories, but has the weight and substance of a novel. The characters are believable and they bring to life various situations that are probably common during deployments: infidelity, real or suspected; loneliness; and injury or death. Despite all this, the book was vividly written and not a downer.
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely loved it. Beautifully written. An emotionally satisfying glimpse into the everyday life of a military spouse, at all stages of deployment. I've recommended it to friends (military wives themselves) and I can't wait to read more by author Siobhan Fallon. Five stars.
  • (5/5)
    This is a masterful collection of short stories, and I think it will make my top 10 reads of the year so far. The stories have a slightly mesmerizing readability and I like how the characters are not so much as connected, but rather how their lives kind of brush up against each other. Every family is different and deals with the same set of circumstances in a different way, and these stories were so realistic and well-written, I had to keep reminding myself they weren't true. This is a fantastic book, and I appreciate the glimpse into a segment of society (military families) that I normally wouldn't know a lot about.
  • (3/5)
    You know When the Men are Gone is an easy read. Siobhan Fallon captures the raw emotions associated with a husband's deployment. The story of each soldier's wife touches on the primal fears and needs that emerge with each tour.
  • (3/5)
    I lived at Ft Hood for almost 4 years and have returned regularly over the years so I was very curious to read this book. The descriptions of the post and Killeen area are accurate and the scenarios of the hardships families endure, while incomplete, are realistic as far as they go. With that being said, I found it to be a little one-sided in that it emphasized the gloom and doom of being a family member of someone in the military. While deployments are indeed difficult and often lonely, families are also proud, amazingly resourceful and get the opportunity to experience interesting adventures and travel opportunities that many other citizens rarely do. I appreciate the difficult story the author was trying to convey as well as her husband's military service and the crucial support she undoubtedly provided him during that challenging time, but I think a more balanced perspective could have catapulted YKWTMAG from a good read to a great one.