Excerpt of The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
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(1) The Owen to whom Norton refers is Owen C. Perina, Norton's twin brother and one of the few significant adult relationships in his life. Unlike Norton, Owen was always interested in literature, and he is now a renowned poet and the Field--Patey Professor of Poetry at Bard College. He has also twice been awarded the National Book Award for poetry, once for The Insect's Hand and Other Poems (1984) and again for The Pillow Book of Philip Perina (1995), as well as numerous other commendations. Owen is as famously taciturn as Norton is voluble, and I once witnessed a very amusing exchange between them when I visited Norton a few Christmases ago. There was Norton, fist full of chestnuts, spewing, chewing, gesticulating, holding forth on everything from the dying art of butterfly mounting to the strange appeal of a certain talk show, and across from him, his lumpish mirror image, grunting and murmuring his occasional assent or dissent, was Owen. Sadly, Norton and his brother are now at irreconcilable odds. As these pages will reveal, their estrangement was abrupt and devastating, the result of a terrible betrayal, one from which Norton will never recover.
(2) Owen Perina has written a rather lovely poem about his mother and her death; it is the first poem in his third collection, Moth and Honey (1986).
Excerpted from The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. Copyright © 2013 by Hanya Yanagihara. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.