On My Book Shelf: Lark and Termite
I have a long shelf of books that have been patiently waiting for me to retire so I could give them the attention they deserve. Some of these dear books have waited several years for me, while some are newer. Lark and Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips is a relative newcomer to my collection; a gift from my daughter.
Lark and Termite is a mysterious and complex novel told from 4 different perspectives. Termite, a nickname for a small (“mite”) mentally handicapped boy, tells his story in a hazy, stream of consciousness manner, mostly through his impressions of the sounds around him. His father was a musician and Termite mostly understands the world auditorily. Although unable to walk or speak coherently (he does echo back sounds and words), Termite perceives many things about his world that others miss. His 17-year-old sister, Lark, cares for Termite and possesses an understanding of her brother that is deeper than any words. Lark’s coming-of-age story includes making plans for a better future for Termite and herself, but it also encompasses new insights about the mother and father she never knew. The story is also told from the point of view of her aunt, who is raising Lark and Termite after their mother’s suicide and their father’s death in the Korean War. The aunt helps us to understand the complex relationships of love, attraction and family bonds that are the backdrop for this whole story. The most haunting voice is that of the father, who is mortally wounded and barely hanging onto to consciousness in a tunnel at No Gun Ri in Korea. Dread hung over me as I read his words, because we know, historically, that No Gun Ri was about to become a death trap.
This is not easy reading and although there is often a heavy feeling of loss, the book is also about hope and about the bonds of love.
I know this should have been posted for my Monday Meanderings, but with the holiday rush I just didn’t get to it on time. Please forgive me and we’ll just call this Tardy Tuesday!
What is on your nightstand today? We’d love to hear what you are reading. Please share in the comment section!