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“Lark and Termite”

Lark and Termite (Vintage Contemporaries)“Lark and Termite,” by Jayne Anne Phillips, published by Vintage, is, in a word, superb. The characters are ones never before encountered. With the narrative moving fluidly between locations in America and Korea, the uncertain map of these people’s lives brings the reader into contact with new perspectives, tribulations and joys. Phillips handles the demanding intricacies of her characters and the importance of their stories expertly. The narrative is startling and corporeal, even when it crosses the boundaries between the seen to unseen, the proven and the understood. Every relationship in the novel possesses a multitude of gradations. No one is simply a lover, brother, mother or aunt. Philips crafts an incredible connection between Lark and her brother Termite. Lark’s affinity for her damaged brother exceeds sisterly bounds; she reads the emotions of Termite without effort. But ultimately her awareness of his conscience merely corroborates his interior; Phillips allows Termite his own lens. The story is measured, and Philips navigates time and her broad array of voices with ease. The reader leaves one character with reluctance, only to be caught up in the intricacies of the next.


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