Peter von Ziegesar
Peter von Ziegesar had just moved to New York and was awaiting the birth of his first child when a dark shape stepped from the looking glass of his past onto a Greenwich Village street. The Looking Glass Brother is Peter von Ziegesar’s remarkable memoir of a life that began in the exquisite enclaves of Long Island’s Gilded Age families and is now lived, in part, as the keeper of his homeless and schizophrenic stepbrother, Little Peter. The Looking Glass Brother is a feast of memories from one of the last, great estates on Long Island’s Peacock Point. Summers were filled with the glistening water of the Long Island Sound, pristine beaches, croquet games, butlers in formal wear serving dinners, and an endless stream of cocktails. When, after a string of affairs, Peter’s father left his mother and remarried, the idyll was broken and several stepchildren, including Little Peter, entered von Ziegesar’s life. Little Peter was an angelic and brilliant young boy, a violin prodigy called by a teacher “the next Paganini,” who spiraled down during adolescence to become one more homeless man living on the street. In this bighearted memoir, Peter von Ziegesar mixes memories of life on Peacock Point with the turbulent joys of urban fatherhood and the responsibility he feels for his brother, a man with the same name as his, but who lives a desperate and very different life.
March 12, 1995
New York City
The phone at my desk rang and a crusty, vaguely familiar, tobacco-hoarse voice crackled in my ear.
“Peter, it’s Peter. Your stepbrother,” said the voice. “Your stepbrother, Peter, who you haven’t seen in many years. Little Peter, meet Big Peter. Isn’t that funny? Anyway, it’s me.”
I looked out my window. It was a gray winter’s afternoon in Greenwich Village. I felt like I was listening to a lost recording of the Beat poets.
“Peter?” I said,
The Preposterous, Moving, Hilarious, and Frequently Terrifying Story of My Gilded Age Long Island Family, My Philandering Father, and the Homeless Stepbrother Who Shares My Name
Peter von Ziegesar