Monday, August 1, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls. you learn your neighbors' routines: when and if they gargle and brush their teeth; how often they go to the bathroom or shower; whether they snore or cry themselves to sleep. 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.

With dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon explores the insular and emotionally fraught world of an American army base in a time of war. She introduces us to a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband's email, and a teenager who disappears with her five-year old brother as their mother fights cancer. There is the soldier who enters into a perilous friendship with an Iraqi female translator, the foreign-born army wife who has tongues wagging over her glamorous clothes and late hours, and the military intelligence officer who plans a secret surveillance mission against his own home.

In gripping, no-nonsense stories that will leave readers shaken, Siobhan Fallon allows us 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.

(synopsis from the publisher)

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