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Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

Lark and Termite Reviewed by Heller McAlpin

A review by Heller McAlpin

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.

Like her first novel, Machine Dreams (1986), Lark and Termite is about the outrage of war and its effects on a family in small-town West Virginia. "People forget that a soldier's death goes on for years -- for a generation, really," a bereft wife reflects.

In Machine Dreams, a beloved brother goes missing in Vietnam. Lark and Termite concerns the confused, early days of the Korean...




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