Reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Tim O’Brien, You Know When the Men Are Gone is an unforgettable collection of 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. There are 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.
When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You’ve Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient. Download and start listening now!