The Story behind the Pick: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

January’s First Editions Club can be one of the hardest to pick, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Think about it, there are so many books coming out in the three months before Christmas, holiday sales etc., that January turns out to be somewhat of a dry month for publishing. So, very few books being released equals very few choices for the First Editions Club. The good news is January is the month where we have to work a little harder and dig a little deeper, and usually come up with something unique and fun. Often the pick is a first time author or an author for whom we really have to pitch a tour stop to the publisher. (all of the First Edition Club authors come to the store for a signing – it’s part of the deal) For instance Kathryn Stockett, Stuart Dybeck, Mary Ward Brown, and William Gay have all been January FEC authors.

January 2011’s First Editions Club pick is You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon. You Know When the Men Are Gone is the first book of short stories we’ve picked since Grisham’s Ford County in 2009 and before that, Pia Ehrhardt’s Famous Fathers, but we didn’t pick it because it’s short stories, (although I do love to promote the short story) no, this pick came about purely from reading and enjoying a book.

You Know When the Men Are Gone is a collection of somewhat connected short stories. This isn’t one of those books where each story has the same characters, or where the stories can be pieced together into a sort of loosely hinged novel, no, 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 mainly from the perspective of the wives of soldiers. But no worries, 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 – as Lisa says here, “Fallon transcends the politics 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?

Siobhan Fallon’s collection, published by Amy Einhorn books, is due out on January 20th. She will be signing (5:00) and reading (5:30) at Lemuria on Tuesday, February 1st.

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