Stories of military families shift focus to those left behind

by Lynn Lofton

Published: May 2,2011

Tags: Joe Hickman, Lemuria Book Store, Siobhan Fallon, You Know When the Men Are Gone

Although there’s always been a focus on military personnel serving the country in peace and war times, not a lot of attention has been paid to the loved ones they leave behind. With the United States fighting two wars and armed forces personnel serving multiple deployments, the hardships for these families is coming into play more and more. A book written by a military wife, “You Know When the Men Are Gone” by Siobhan Fallon, is poignantly bringing those stories into the public eye.

The book is a collection of somewhat connected short stories, points out Joe Hickman, manager of Lemuria Book Store in Jackson. “This isn’t one of those books where the stories have the same characters, or where the stories can be pieced together into a sort of loosely hinged novel,” he said. “Instead, these stories are more connected in theme. Each is about spouses, children or parents of soldiers in the Middle East.”

There are stories that delve into the soldiers’ perspective, but for the most part the stories are from the perspective of the wives of soldiers. “This is by no means a limitation, neither is the wartime theme – although readers may be concerned that they won’t like the book for those reasons,” Hickman added. “One reader comments, ‘Fallon transcends the politics of war and gets to the heart of the matter: the families who serve our country. Besides that, she is a great writer, worthy of reading no matter what the theme.’ And isn’t that why we’re here? To find that reading experience that offers that sort of transcendence?”

Fallon’s book has received lots of praise and was chosen for starred reviews by Publishers Weekly and the Librarians Journal. Jean Kwok, author of “Girl in Transition,” said, “Siobhan Fallon is a remarkable debut author whose first collection of short stories signals the debut of a new American talent. I was drawn into a world I had never seen before and found heartache, courage and laughter there.”

Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned a master’s of fine arts at the New School in New York City and now lives with her family near the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.

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