Lark and Termite

Lark & Termite - Jayne Anne Phillips This seems to be one of those books to which most readers either connect deeply or don't connect at all. I didn't really connect with this book, although I can appreciate why other readers loved it.This book takes a little work to get into: it starts with the story of Robert Leavitt, an American soldier in the Korean war in 1950, then jumps to the story of Lark, a girl living in West Virginia in 1959, and then to her aunt Nonie, and then to her brother Termite, and around and about. It takes a while (almost to the end of the book) to see how some of these stories are connected, and when I read that some of the chapters have been previously published as short stories, I saw that in some sense they never really were connected. Termite's chapters are very abstract, which makes them difficult, but they are worth the effort in the end.Once I managed to sink all the way into the book, it was good, but it didn't blow me away. I got the sense that Jayne Anne Phillips pulled together her favourite shorter pieces of fiction and knit them into a novel. It was satisfying, but to me it felt like piecework and not a unified effort. A more definitive ending (or, even better, a more definitive conflict) might have helped, but I think this style of novel just isn't to my taste.