Friday, May 13, 2011

War Stories from Closer to Home

The structure of Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men Are Gone reminded me from the beginning of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, short stories with a common setting whose characters overlap. Fallen too writes a fictional account based on her own experience, a Ft. Hood wife of a soldier deployed to Iraq.

The stories move back and forth between the base, where wives are facing fears that range from roadside bombs to females serving in the field near their husbands. They deal with gossip, cancer, and childrearing alone --or with the makeshift families developed among the other wives.

The most painful accounts are those of the less-than-perfect homecomings, especially the story of Kit, a soldier returning injured to his young wife who wants her old life back--alone.

With my own friend's sons and even former students having spent time in Ft. Hood, I'm reminded that Fallon's stories only offer a slice of that experience, but what she offers has the ring of truth.

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