Excerpt of Envy by Kathryn Harrison
(Page 2 of 4)
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He tries to picture the women's workaday selves: quieter, with paler
lips, flatter hair. Still, on the whole they're well preserved, while
the men by their sides look worn and rumpled. Receding hairlines have
nowhere else to go; love handles have grown too big to take hold of.
"Hey!" someone says, and Will turns around to a face he remembers from
his freshman dorm. "David Snader!" the face bellows to identify itself.
With his big, hot hand, David pulls Will into a crushing hug. "Where you
been!" he says, as though he'd lost track of Will hours rather than
"Hey!" Will pulls out of the sweaty and, it would appear, drunken
"Are you here alone?" David asks him. He blots his forehead with a
Will nods. "Carolemy wifeshe wasn't up for a long weekend of nostalgia
with people she's never met before."
"Same here. Same here." David gives Will a companionable punch in the
arm. "Where's Mitch?" he asks, and Will shrugs.
"Didn't make it. At least not as far as I know."
"Oh yeah?" David squints. "You guys not in touch or something?"
"Not at the moment."
"Well." He punches Will's arm again. "Guess that makes sense. All the
travel. Media. Price of fame."
Will produces the rueful smile he hopes will convey that his
estrangement from his famous twin is no big deal. Unfortunate, of
course, but nothing hurtful or embarrassing. He's about to ask David
about his wife and whether or not they have children, when David lurches
off into the crowd. Will fills his cheeks with air, blows it out in a
gust. David Snader is the fifth person in one hour to have approached
him to ask not about Will or Will's work, his family, but about his
brother, whose career as a long-distance swimmer has given Mitch a name
as recognizable as that of, say, Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. Not
that any of these alumni were his friends. Will and David hadn't even
liked each other. But still.
He goes to the bar for a glass of red wine. If he's going to drink, he
might as well rinse a little cholesterol out of his arteries. He's just
replacing his wallet in the inside breast pocket of his blazer when he
looks up to see someone else bearing down on him, Sue Shimakawa, with
whom he'd shared an exam-week tryst, if that's the right word for
abbreviated coitus in the musty, rarely penetrated stacks of the
undergraduate library. Punch-drunk from studying chemistry for a few
hundred hours, on a dare Will had asked Sue to have sex with him,
prepared for a slap, or for her badmouthing him later or laughing at him
in the moment, anything but what he got: her accepting his invitation
with a sort of gung-ho enthusiasm. She had one of those bodies Will
thinks of as typically Asian: compact, androgynous, and smooth-skinned,
with pubic hair that was absolutely straight instead of curly, the
surprise of this discoveryalong with the panic induced by having
intercourse in a potentially public placeenough to eclipse other, more
"Will, Will, Will," Sue sings at him. "I was hoping to see you!" She has
a man in tow, a sandy-haired giant at least a foot and a half taller
than she. "Meet Rob. We have five kids, if you can believe it! Five!"
from Envy by Kathryn Harrison Copyright © 2005 by Kathryn
Harrison. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of
Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be
reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the