In 2011, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (Penguin) published my dear friend Siobhan Fallon’s debut short story collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone. (If you didn’t know, Amy Einhorn is the editor who gave readers The Help by Kathryn Stockett.) Siobhan is a U.S. Army wife, and her stories delve into the lives of military families at Fort Hood in Texas over the course of a year while their soldiers are deployed to Iraq.
A poster in my neighborhood for the Z Space Word for Word stage production of YKWTMAG
And now, some of the stories from her collection, which are linked, have been adapted to the stage. If you happen to be in San Francisco from Jan. 1 through Feb. 24, 2013, get tickets to the Z Space Word for Word production. I saw an early version of it last year, and it was fantastic. Her stories are already powerful and moving—comparisons to Tim O’Brien and Raymond Carver have been made—and seeing them played out by this fine troupe of actors does nothing but enhance them.
For more information, check out the Word for Word webpage or blog.
Two nights ago, I attended an unusual reading of two of my friend Siobhan Fallon‘s short stories from her collection You Know When the Men Are Gone. It was at Z Space, a gallery and performance venue in San Francisco, presented by Word for Word and part of their Off the Page series. They’ve also performed stories from other books like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
An ensemble of actors read the stories while acting them out, complete with he said and she said, and all the description of internal thoughts, action, and place. The two stories, “The Last Stand” and “Gold Star” are linked by a central character, Kit, who is a wounded soldier returned from the Iraq War (all of Siobhan’s amazingly written stories are about the soldiers and families of Fort Hood, Texas during this war), and seeing them played out was truly an unforgettable, moving experience.
It also reminded me about the importance of reading our work aloud to get an idea if it’s working or not. Of course, once your story or book is published, readers will be living it out on the movie screen of their imaginations, silently (for the most part, one hopes!), but the hard work you do as the writer—and that includes going hoarse from mumble-reading drafts to yourself as you pace the floor in front of your computer—will make it come wonderfully alive.