And speaking of memories, just calling them up can keep a man sane over there.
All the time, he’s thinking about his troops, himself, and making sure that neither gets hurt. He’s dreaming about toilet paper, your smell, the kids, fresh socks balled up in a drawer, food that hasn’t sat on a truck for six months. And he’s thinking about a clean bed, and hoping that you’re not sharing one with someone other than him…
Be careful where you are when you first pick up this book. Make sure there are comfy chairs around, good lighting, and you’ve got room in your schedule because you’ll have an impossible time tearing yourself away from it once you start it. Briefly put, I was stunned at how incredible “You Know When the Men Are Gone” truly is.
The characters in this collection of short stories – each connected by the thinnest of threads – will put a lump in your throat after they’ve taken your breath away. Author Siobhan Fallon spent lived at Ft. Hood during her husband’s two tours of duty, so she created those characters with the voice of one who’s Been There. That lends a particular feeling of reality here, even though this is a work of fiction.
If you don’t mind having your heart broken by a debut novel, “You Know When the Men Are Gone” is the one you want. To be sure, this is 2011’s first can’t-miss book.