Writer Frank O'Conner emphasized that loneliness and isolation were the most compatible themes with the short story's formal qualities. In that spirit, "You Know When The Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon is the quintessential short story collection, and Siobhan Fallon one of the best new writers to arrive in many years.
These series of stories are at heart about isolation even in the midst of a community that makes great efforts to reach out to those affected by deployment over seas. You never know the private battles your neighbor is going through, and they come in many shapes and sizes: PTSD, physical trauma, lost limbs, infidelity, graft...as if life isn't hard enough, being married and in the military dials up the pitfalls and trials to eleven. Fallon's voice rings true in these tales, and why shouldn't they? She was a military spouse stationed in Fort Hood while her husband completed two deployments in Iraq. A marriage that survives base housing and deployments has the legs to hold together a hundred years.