Thursday, May 26, 2011
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
I can't put into words how much I loved this book, but I shall try. You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon is a collection of short stories about "the army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas." Eight loosely connected short stories dealing with some of the realities of military life: loneliness, PTSD, living on base, and adultery among other things.
For a few reasons, I don't usually seek out short stories. Usually, there are a few amazing stories in a collection and the rest are just okay. That is not the case with You Know When the Men Are Gone. Every story is strong in its own right. The stories chosen for the first and last stories make a perfect introduction and conclusion for the collection.
Other problems I have with short stories is that they are not long enough for me to feel a connection to the characters, and I feel they wrap up too tidily for something so short. I felt a connection with almost all of the characters and was immediately interested in their lives and what was happening to them. While Fallon is a talented writer, my interest is probably also due to the fact that this is a life and culture I know little about. As for Fallon's endings, they don't wrap up. And while that leaves me wanting, I appreciate it because life is not always tidy. I will say I am not exaggerating when I say I wanted more. One of the stories, "Leave," is about a soldier that suspects his wife is cheating on him. He comes home on leave without telling and sneaks into the basement, where he waits for proof one or or another. The ending to this story is left up to the imagination.
Fallon's collection has made me want to give short stories another chance. Anyone have any recommendations? Sadly, the collection also makes me want to check out the show Army Wives, even though I am trying to cut out TV time, not add to it. It was just so interesting and I want more from her, more about these characters, but since I don't have that... Army Wives it is.