Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

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Synopsis

A rich, many-layered novel from one of our major writers, her first in nine years.

Set in the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, it is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.

At its center: Lark and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but full of radiance; their mother, Lola; their aunt, Nonie, who raises them; and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the chaotic early months of the Korean War. Told with enormous imagination and deep feeling, the novel invites us into the hearts and thoughts of each of the leading characters; even into Termite’s intricate, shuttered consciousness. We are with Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire. We see Lark’s hopes for herself and Termite, and how she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie. We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed forever.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Jayne Anne Phillips

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Jayne Anne Phillips is the author of three previous novels and two collections of widely anthologized stories. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Bunting Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy Award in Literature (1997) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Phillips is currently professor of English and director of the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey.
 
Published December 24, 2008 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lark and Termite

The New York Times

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$24 'Lark and Termite,' by Jayne Anne Phillips: In War and Floods, a Family’s Leitmotif of Love, Memories and Secrets (January 6, 2009) Times Topics: Jayne Anne Phillips The Korean boy and his sister appear as surrogates — out of place and out of time — for Termite and Lark.

Jan 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The New York Times

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And there’s Termite, carried by Lark to the attic to wait out the raging flood that has overtaken their small town, hearing the river surge with the rain, the water now inside the house and rising, as he and Lark wait for a neighbor to rescue them by boat.

Jan 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The New York Times

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Lark knows she’s never going to leave Termite, “not in this life.” Her goodness, her capacity for willing, even joyful sacrifice — the strength of her love — is a gift to match that possessed by her little brother, “watching something we don’t see,” his eyes “so full of light.” Born on the same ...

Jan 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The Guardian

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The acclaimed American novelist Jayne Anne Phillips opens her first novel in nine years with an epigraph from The Sound and the Fury: "Because no battle is ever won he said.

Apr 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The Guardian

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The rest of the novel rotates through the inner maunderings of Lark, Nonie and Termite, punctuated by scrupulous documentation of the final three days in the short life of Corporal Leavitt.

Mar 14 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

BC Books

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Decker's The Burn Zone by Michael Jones Blogcritics Contact Blogcritics Advertising About Blogcritics RSS feeds All RSS Feeds (240+) All BC Articles All BC Comments...

Apr 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

BC Books

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Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite lingers at the edges of the mind long after the back cover closes.

Mar 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

NPR

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Inspired by a memory of a young boy she saw 30 years ago in West Virginia, Jayne Anne Phillips' new novel, Lark & Termite, has drawn comparisons to The Sound and the Fury.

Feb 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

NPR

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She has on her white uniform to go to work at Charlie's and she holds Termite out from her a ways, not to get her stockings run with his long toenails or her skirt stained with his fingers because he always has jam on them after breakfast."There's Termite."

Jan 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Examiner

Tuesday March 3, 7 PM: Literary magazine Granta is sponsoring a reading at the Tribeca Barnes and Noble, featuring Lark and Termite author Jayne Anne Phillips.

Mar 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Book Reporter

Basing the grimly realistic Korean segments of the novel on accounts of the massacre of South Korean civilians by American troops at No Gun Ri, Phillips movingly describes the last days of Leavitt, mortally wounded by friendly fire and pinned down in an abandoned railroad tunnel, where he has sou...

Apr 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The Independent

The transformation of evil into good is one of the biblical aspects of this nevertheless secular tale of two siblings, the unlikely named Lark and Termite.

May 17 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

The Telegraph

Lark and Termite are the brother and sister at the heart of Jayne Anne Phillips’s fourth novel.

Mar 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Christian Science Monitor

(Well, there’s that mystical bond between twins, but that might just be a bad “Sweet Valley High” backlash from the 1980s.)

Jan 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

USA Today

It takes nerve to open a book with a epigraph drawn from one of the Great American Novels, The Sound and the Fury and then model the narrative after it.Like William Faulkner's seminal story of Southern decay, Jayne Anne Phillips' latest, Lark & Termite, unfolds as a fractured fable of familial s...

| Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Tampa Bay Times

Its time line entwines two compressed periods: seven days in 1959 in the lives of the title characters, a pair of young siblings living in Winfield, a tiny town on the Kanawha River in West Virginia — and seven days, the same dates, in 1950, as Termite's father struggles to stay alive in the firs...

Jan 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Bookmarks Magazine

Novelist and short story writer Jayne Anne Phillips took American literature by storm in 1979 with Black Tickets, a collection of character sketches and short stories exploring the loneliness and alienation of ordinary men and women derailed in their quest for the American Dream.

Jan 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Ken Greenleaf

"Language Immersion" is the name of a program set up by the US Army in Korea just prior to the North's invasion of the South.

Jan 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Lark and Termite

Reader Rating for Lark and Termite
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