Here are some notices about the book, so far:
“In What There Was Not to Tell, Edie Clark sets out to fill in the details of the gaping hole that was created in her family’s life by the death of a man she never met. What she discovered is a riveting story that is tragic yet triumphant, uniquely personal yet universal. This is a surprising and thoroughly compelling tale of how a single casualty of war can set off chain reactions of heartbreaking loss, undying love, and unshakable loyalty across multiple generations. At the same time, it is an incredible piece of family detective work that keeps taking unexpected twists and turns.” – Dayton Duncan, author of The Dust Bowl and The National Parks: America's Best Idea
"An amazing account that will keep you turning the pages from beginning to end. Clark has written a thoughtful, interesting and gentle book that will capture your heart and your imagination, and perhaps make you think a little bit deeper about life, love and war."
-- Paul Collins, The (Nashua) Sunday Telegraph
“Haunting.” -- Tim Clark, Yankee magazine
“A moving book. Beautifully written.” – Rebecca Upjohn Snyder, author of The Last Loon
"In the letters, the word "death" appears nowhere. Astounding. This "not there" reverberates throughout the book. EC's story and perseverance takes us deeper and deeper and then even deeper."
--- Sandy Diamond, poet, playwright, author of The Hunchback; Miss Coffin and Mrs. Blood.
“A powerful story of love, war and the lingering effects of the tragedy of war that is as intimate as it is universal. With What There Was Not To Tell Edie Clark establishes herself as one of the premiere writers of memoir working today.”
–Rebecca Rule, author, columnist for the Concord Monitor.
“Clark writes this book with a gentle touch, and a bit of Tolstoy, as she deals with the anguish of lovers inflamed by love and World War II and maddened by the savagery of wartime. An extraordinary interweave of letter excerpts, military logs and narrative, revealing a love that can last longer than a world war.”
---Steve Sherman, Keene (NH) Sentinel
“In this story of love and loss, pain and poignancy, sorrow and stoicism, Clark weaves together a tapestry of conflicting emotions. What There Was Not To Tell reflects an important part of World War II that doesn’t get enough light shed on it: What happens after? What does coming home look like?”
---Jon Potter, Brattleboro (VT) Reformer
Selected as "book of the week" by the New Hampshire Library Assoc.
About the book:
My parents died in 1994, leaving me more than two thousand letters, written during World War II. To some extent, I knew the story of Tom but the letters allowed me to understand him within the context of that war, which I had never understood nor known much about. The name of the book comes from the fact that, whenever I asked my father to tell me about the war, he would answer, “There’s nothing much to tell.” The letters told me a great deal that my parents did not, not only about themselves but about that war and war, in general. Through reading the letters, I came to believe that my generation was deeply affected by World War II, without ever really knowing it. The silence of our fathers (and mothers) may be from unprocessed grief and the famous “generation gap” may have been a direct effect of our fathers’ service coupled with their inability to articulate what that war had meant and how much (how many) had been lost to accomplish what they did.
The book is in the form of an odyssey, finding not only Tom’s final (of four) resting place but also the description of his death, reconstructed from Air Corps records and memories of those who fought nearby. I use extracts of the letters to give voice to both my father and mother, as well as to Tom. These extracts interspersed with my memories, thoughts and revelations as I make this journey into a past I never knew.
I've posted all the readings (constantly updating) I have lined up to present this book, which was more than 15 years in the making. For me, this book is a complete labor of love, a quest to unlock the secrets my parents held until their deaths. As a result of reading their letters, I know now what I wish I had known, growing up. I never understood them in the way that I do now and it is with great sadness that I remember my impatience with them, their odd choices in life, their particular habits. I had no way of knowing that what shaped them was a war that I never knew. I know it now and want to share what I have learned from the long quest to find what Tom meant to both my mother and my father. It wasn't what I thought. I hope you will read the book with interest, for your own quests. I am confident in saying that you've ever read a book about World War II like this one. Thank you for following my work. It means so much to me.
I hope you enjoy what else you find on this website. Do let me hear from you if you have any suggestions, thoughts, or complaints. Thank you so much for visiting. Over the years I’ve come to realize that what matters more than anything, more than the publishers, more than the editors, more than the checks they pay me, what matters most are my readers.
In 1992, the Bishop of Worcester condemned St. Joseph's Catholic Church and ordered it closed. The parishioners refused to leave, sleeping on cots and on the hard pews. For thirteen months this was their life. In July of 1993, they were removed by the police. In many ways this was the blossoming of their faith.
Originally published in Yankee Magazine in November 1993.
Growing up, nothing I could do seemed to please my mother and nothing she said made sense to me. But when my mother, on the threshold of death, came to live with me, I found what seemed to have been lost forever.
Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1995
(The follow-up article to Miracle at St. Joseph's.)
The Bishop turned to them and said, "Your prayers have been answered, the hard hearts have softened."
Originally published in Yankee Magazine, December 1996
A reflection on the power of cooking and friendship and the concept of family.
Originally published in Yankee Magazine, November/December 2007
Memorial Day, Harrisville, New Hampshire
Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1996
Libraries occupy a special place in the heart of a town. Evening events at the library give a strong sense of community and make it seem like a great place to live. And in the wake of the online revolution small town libraries have found a way to not only survive but to be indispensable.
In December 2008 an epic ice storm left virtually the entire state of New Hampshire without power. The residual effects of that storm paralyzed the Monadnock Region almost through Christmas. A first person account.
In 1994, sixteen-year-old Billy Best was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After several treatments, he ran away to avoid chemotherapy. What happened after that may have been a miracle.
Roxanne Quimby once lived primitively in the Maine woods. Today she owns 90,000 acres of those woods, and her goal is to create a national park to preserve the landscape forever. So why do so many people wish she'd just go away?
Multi-million dollar border stations are rising along our line between US and Canada. What was once the "friendliest border" has become deadly serious.
Renowned short story writer, Andre Dubus, reflects on the accident that cost him his legs.
A trip to Poland discovers a beloved family friend
An elegy for the master of the short story.
Thousands seek healing from this innocent, comatose child.
A complete listing of articles published since 1978
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief