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Lark and Termite


Lark and Termite Cover

ISBN13: 9780375401954
ISBN10: 0375401954
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 2 left in stock at $7.50!



Reading Group Guide

1. Have you read any of Jayne Anne Phillips's other books? If so, in what ways is Lark and Termite similar to her earlier work, and how is it different?

2. Reread the quotations in the epigraph. Now that you've read the novel, what does each one mean to you?

3. On page 5, Leavitt thinks, "The war makes ghosts of them all." In what ways does this prove true? Which ghosts are literal, and which metaphorical?

4. Who is the strongest person in the novel? The weakest?

5. Mothers, and substitute mothers, play a substantial role in the novel. What do you think Jayne Anne Phillips is trying to say about motherhood?

6. Compare and contrast the sibling relationships in the novel: Lark and Termite, Nonie and Lola, and the nameless Korean pair.

7. Discuss the sense of sound as it relates to each of the main characters. In what ways does sound function differently for Termite than for Nonie or Lark? What about Leavitt and Lola? What does the sense of sound say about the importance of language?

8. Two different tunnels are the settings for major developments in the novel. What do they signify?

9. On page 24, Lola says of Lark, "I gave her a bird's name. Maybe she'll grow up safe and fly away."And on page 34 Lark discusses Termites nickname: "I think he's in himself like a termite's in a wall." What other names in the novel carry metaphorical weight?

10. Why does Charlie take care of Lola? What about Onslow?

11. "Termite can only tell the truth," Lark says on page 85. Who else tells the truth? Who lies? What are the ramifications?

12. What role does Solly play? What about his father, Nick?

13. Throughout the novel, we revisit events from different perspectives. How do the multiple takes change your understanding of what's happening?

14. On page 144, Lark says, "It's almost as though Stamble and Termite are related versions of something, but Stamble walks around in the world and Termite doesn't." Who is Robert Stamble? Why does Lark see him?

15. Where do you think Termite's new wheelchair really came from?

16. Discuss the flood. How is each character's life affected?

17. Reread and discuss the final Termite passages, on pages 249-250. What is revealed there?

18. Does the novel have a happy ending?

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

i8pixistix, September 16, 2009 (view all comments by i8pixistix)
Lyrical. The cadence and rhythm of the words - the way the story moves - is like a song with a good beat. Like the many references in the book to the sounds and flow of water and the sounds under the sounds - the book takes you along in its flow.
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alsek, February 7, 2009 (view all comments by alsek)
A wonderful novel by an accomplished writer. Set in West Virginia and Korea during the 1950's. Do yourself a favor and buy a first printing of this book which certainly is going to become a collectible. If you don't believe me simply read the blurbs on the back from a trio of heavyweights - Alice Munro, Junot Diaz and Tim O'Brien.
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frugalscholar, February 2, 2009 (view all comments by frugalscholar)
A beautiful book about family, history, loss, love ...this reminds me of the earlier Machine Dreams, which also centers on a sibling relationship. A moving, powerful book.
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Product Details

Phillips, Jayne Anne
Jayne Anne Philli
Korean war, 1950-1953
West virginia
Domestic fiction
General Fiction
Family saga
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.48x5.98x1.09 in. 1.02 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

Lark and Termite Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780375401954 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This is the story of 17-year-old Lark and her fierce devotion to her disabled brother, nicknamed Termite. It's also the story of their family: proud Aunt Nonie, who raises them; Robert, Termite's father, killed in the Korean War; and their wayward mother, Lola. Time is presented in a fluid, mingled fashion, as the past continues to have consequences in the present. Jayne Anne Phillips writes dazzling, tactile prose that engages all five senses, and here she presents a novel with true staying power, one that lingers in the mind well after the last page is turned.

"Review A Day" by , "Jayne Anne Phillips writes with all five senses, paying attention — as few writers do — to sight, sound, taste, touch and smell in nearly every sentence of her tightly constructed, extraordinary new novel, Lark and Termite. On page after page she evokes the sound of machine guns turning on their pivots, the smell of soap on a big sister's hands, light that goes purple with an oncoming storm, the sweetness of divinity frosting or the acridity of bloodied water, and the balm of a lover's touch. The result, her first book in nine years, is a powerful reading experience, at once poetic and electrifying." (read the entire Newsday review)
"Review" by , "What a beautiful, beautiful novel this is — so rich and intricate in its drama, so elegantly written, so tender, so convincing, so penetrating, so incredibly moving. I can declare without hesitation or qualification that Lark and Termite is by far the best new novel I've read in the last five years or so."
"Review" by , "This novel is cut like a diamond, with such sharp authenticity and bursts of light."
"Review" by , "Lark and Termite is extraordinary and it is luminous. This is not simply classic Jayne Anne Phillips. This is something far more extraordinary. It is an astounding feat of the imagination. It is the best novel I've read this year."
"Review" by , "Jayne Anne Phillips's intricate, deeply felt new novel reverberates with echoes of Faulkner, Woolf, Kerouac, McCullers and Michael Herr's war reporting, and yet it fuses all these wildly disparate influences into something incandescent and utterly original."
"Review" by , "Moving between Leavitt's perilous situation — his unit has taken refuge with some South Koreans in a railroad tunnel after being pinned down by friendly fire — and his hardscrabble family in Winfield, West Virginia, where a life-changing natural disaster strikes, Phillips lovingly and dramatically captures intimate and historic parallels between these disparate places.
"Review" by , "In one startling passage, Lark says about Termite, as they sit in the yard of Nonie's house in the 'still and flat' day. 'He never looks at his fingers but I always think he hears or knows something through them.' It seems to me that Phillips has always written this way too — right through her amazing fingers into the astonished world."
"Synopsis" by , Phillips's first novel in nine years is a rich, many-layered work. 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 families.
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