Lark & Termite, By Jayne Anne Phillips

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The Independent Culture

The opening chapters of Phillips's fourth novel might leave even dedicated fans flailing, but once you've got your bearings -1950s Korea - this distinctive wartime narrative starts to fall into place.

While Corporal Robert Leavitt is battling out his last hours in a dark tunnel in Korea, over in America his son, Termite, is entering the world.

Years on and we are in West Virginia, where Termite, born severely disabled, is being brought up by his half-sister, Lark. Much of the action of the novel is related through Termite's eyes. Phillips attempts to show how people are bound to one another as much by received memories as blood.