Excerpt from Envy by Kathryn Harrison, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Envy

A Novel

by Kathryn Harrison

Envy
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2006, 320 pages

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Wow, Will is about to say when Sue turns to her husband and says, "Rob, this is Will Moreland, an old fuck-buddy of mine."

Whether Rob is mute or only, like Will, horrified into silence, he thrusts his big, freckled hand forward without saying a word. The two men shake, silent in the clamor all around them, and then each drops his hand to his side and looks at Sue to see what might happen next.

"Rob's a debt analyst," she says.

"Really!" Will exclaims.

"Yes."

They all nod.

"Hey, hey," Sue says. "How about that brother of yours, huh? We're major fans. Major."

"He has had a spectacular ride." For once, Will is relieved when the conversation turns to his brother.

"Oh, I don't know. There's heaps of athletes that are celebrities."

"Of course, yes," Will says. "I know that. I just—"

"Is he here?"

"Here?"

"At the reunion. Here at the reunion."

"No. I'm afraid not."

"Oh, too bad. I really wanted to catch a glimpse of him."

Me, too, Will thinks as Sue and her husband move off. Having not heard from his brother for fifteen years now, during which time Mitch went from being known in the world of elite swimmers to being known by just about everyone, Will fantasized that Mitch might actually show up. If he's honest with himself, the hope of seeing his brother was at least part of what persuaded him to attend the reunion—especially after he'd learned that Andrew Goldstein, the one friend with whom he'd kept in touch after college, wouldn't be coming because his wife's due date fell on the same weekend. Not that seeing Mitch would be pleasant or, Will imagines, anything less than traumatic, but he's fed up with having to manage his private anguish even as he's forced to admit sheepishly to friends, colleagues, neighbors, and now alumni that he's no better informed about his brother's latest stunt swim—as Will has come to think of them—than the average reader of Sports Illustrated.

"Hello," says a voice behind him, startling Will out of what Carole would call one of his social desertions, when he becomes a spectator rather than a participant. He turns in the direction of the flirtatious tone he almost recognizes. As for the face: arresting, angular, unforgettable. Thinner than she used to be, but no less substantial—she looks concentrated, a distillate of her younger self.

"Elizabeth," he says.

"William." She tilts her head to one side, lifts her eyebrows. "Were you looking for someone?"

"You, of course. Who else?" Will unbuttons his shirt collar and loosens his tie. "Do you think I didn't scour each of those e-mail bulletins listing who was planning to attend, hoping—hoping against hope—to see your name?"

"Can it be?" Elizabeth says. "Has Mr. Fatally Earnest developed a sense of humor?"

"Only in extremis."

Elizabeth glances around herself. "I guess this qualifies," she says.

Excerpted 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 publisher.

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