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The Looking Glass Brother: 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
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The Looking Glass Brother: 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

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3.02  ·  Rating details ·  61 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
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 kee ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Picador (first published June 25th 2013)
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Jennifer
Mar 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to leave a bad review, but was expressly requested to since I won the book in a Goodreads giveaway. I'm always excited to win things (especially books!) and was looking forward to reading this one, but couldn't even make it as far as some of these other readers who gave up (I tried. It was the only book with me during a six-hour car ride!). I don't even know if I can put this on my "read" shelf considering I couldn't force myself past page 30, making this book only the fourth I have ever ...more
Lola
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to receive a copy of "The Looking Glass Brother" from the "Goodreads Giveaway". When their parents marry, each has a son named Peter. So they were called Peter & Little Peter. The book takes a look at what it's like to be a person with schizophrenia & living on the streets--also the experience of von Ziegesar having a brother with schizophrenia. I felt that it is probably even more difficult than the author described it.
The family is pretty dysfunctional. I found the book,
...more
Anna Martin
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book partly because I am interested in mental health issues. The book raised lots of issues:
Why do some people have resilience and no drive or too much drive and can this be fixed? The book is mostly, one way or another, about the father that the two boys share, who is mostly held accountable for a lot of the boys' pain.
The style changes for the better with the decision to document Peter’s life: I realized this first when the lady in the hotel writes something upside down and Pete
...more
Heather
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read
I think I liked this book. I know I definitely liked the first half better than the second half.

I received this book via the Goodreads giveaway. I received a hard cover book, similar to the picture on this page. The subtitle (The preposterous, moving, hilarious, and frequently terrifying story of my gilded age Long Island family, my philandering father, and the homeless stepbrother who share my name) is not on the book. Not anywhere. Now that I see the subtitle, the book makes a bit more sense.
...more
Bonnie
Jun 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
UNCLE! I made it to 158 and just could not finish this terrible book. I received this as a Goodreads Giveaway. It goes without saying that this did not influence my review. Here are some of the problems with this book, in no particular order.

1) The author has no idea what story he is telling. There are several possibilities (none all that interesting) and he can't seem to decide on a narrative. I had thought this would be an examination of how a promising boy with every imaginable advantage coul
...more
Mason
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
When I started The Looking Glass Brother I wasn't sure it would be able to hold my attention, and although I came to wish it was more memoir and less biography of his step-brother, it certainly did. At first I was very interested in his step-brother's story, but unfortunately I didn't find him to be a very redemptive character and I eventually lost interest in what kind of trouble he would get himself into next while assuming someone else would solve the problem for him. The author's story was m ...more
Sara
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review on Goodreads.

The good: The prose is gorgeous, and the book starts out with a bang, the author introducing him to his mentally ill stepbrother, "Little" Peter. The portrayal of mental illness is compassionate, unflinchingly real, and written in a way that breaks your heart.

The author doesn't mince words when it comes to analyzing his own problems (as well as those of his dysfunctional family) with drugs and the like. I always appreci
...more
Margaret Gaudio
Sep 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
**I won this book as a Goodreads First Reads - which I was annoyed to discover that the book had been sent out to me with a page already torn in half**

This book was not really what the cover leads you to believe. Someone else said the author couldn't seem to figure out where he wanted to go with the telling of the story. I expected to be reading a book about this man and his schizophrenic step-brother, which I guess, to some degree he does do.

Unlike many others, I did manage to finish the whole
...more
David Duncan
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To anyone interested in mental illness
Recommended to David by: Goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
The Looking Glass Brother, by Peter Von Ziegesar, is my one hundred sixty - second book that I have received and read from Goodreads. This story is about Peter Von Ziegesar, the story of his gilded Long Island family. He talkes of his mentally ill stepbrother "Little Peter", and problems and his struggles with mental illness. The story is about two brothers from different mothers. Both with the same name of Peter Von Ziegesar. Little Peter his half brother, started out life as a handsome and a c ...more
P
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, memoir
I won this on goodreads. While I thought the writing was excellent, I have to say that the story didn't grab me. This is why I am not much of a memoir fan I guess. I find them usually whiny and/or self-serving. There's a lot going on here and only part of it deals with the brother (actually step brother) of the title. I found that part most interesting, as von Ziegasar tries to help his mentally ill, alcoholic/drug addled step brother who has actually carved out a life for himself that he prefer ...more
Nelda Brangwin
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Looking Glass Brother
So many homeless mentally ill people appear in newspaper articles. I’ve always looked at it as a problem, but probably not one that my family would ever face. “Big” Peter Von Ziegesar’s story of his family and his mentally ill brother changed how I looked at this problem. Von Ziegesar’s step-brother has struggled with mental illness. He’s spent time in jail for physical violence, he’s been in rehab and has bounced around from city to city. When “Little” Peter shows up in
...more
AnnMarie Johnson
I received a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

I enjoyed most of this memoir, although I disagree that it's about his brother. It's much more about his entire family, particularly the middle. Which frankly, got pretty boring. I didn't really have much reason to care about his rather outlandish upper class extended family and their shenanigans in the early and middle part of last century. I was more interested in the story of his brot
...more
Alvin C.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this memoir by Peter von Ziegesar- It's about his stepbrother of the same name- brothers from another mother- Little Peter, who started his handsome young life as a child prodigy of the violin. But even the privileged suffer from schizophrenia and homelessness, and this extremely well written story of the trials of taking care of his brother, especially when most other family members had given up, is remarkable. I've seen many homeless, and doubt they have the support that was l ...more
Joan
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, first-reads
A beautiful story of mental illness, acceptance of self, and the bonds of friendship and family. Ziegesar weaves a complicated story of his life with a common denominator of his relationship with his brother. Throughout the story he struggles with coming to terms with a brother who will never lead a "normal life" and who's complex personality spans from good and loyal friend to needy dependent. Its a testament to a brother's loyalty through good times and bad.
Amy Binkerd
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway!

The title page to chapter 10 has a quote on it that sums up this book accurately. "A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end...but not necessarily in that order" - Jean-Luc Godard

You never know from one chapter to the next what period of time you'll be in, or who's story is being shared. It was ok. Just a lot of random memories thrown into random chapters.
Sarah
I discovered this book from BuzzFeed; they interviewed the author via email ("How This Writer Learned To Cope With His Brother's Schizophrenia" by Kristie Lee Yandoli). The author, (big) Peter, narrated about his life with a "brother from another mother", (little) Peter. Little Peter has mental illness and is homeless, the latter by choice.
I really enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting to have an "inside look" into what it is like to care/love someone with schizophrenia.
Kate
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest, funny, heartbreaking, searching, helping. Peter von Ziegesar discovers many truths but not all the answers about himself, his brilliant and troubled brother and his colorful, privileged, and in some cases very unhappy family members.
Lynsie
A fascinating book. Goes back and forth between a vision of old world luxury and a brother's view of homelessness and mental illness. Opulence, despair, and then building up his new baby family away from the ashes of his descendants.
Yvonne
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could put this book down and leave it for days. There were parts that I enjoyed immensely and parts I wish he had left out.
Amy
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not much into non-fiction and a memoir about a guy with a homeless mentally ill brother sounded bleak. But right from the beginning it was interesting and engaging. A pleasant surprise.
Rita
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really wanted to like this book. But it wasn't for me. I have family who struggle with mental illness and it hits too close to home.
Kathy
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the shifting timeline look at a dysfunctional family.
Sbark
rated it did not like it
Oct 29, 2014
Stephanie
rated it it was ok
Jul 07, 2013
Heather Donahoo
rated it it was ok
Feb 26, 2017
Beverly Smith
rated it it was amazing
Apr 23, 2014
Aubrey
rated it it was ok
Oct 26, 2013
Kath
rated it it was ok
Jul 10, 2014
Vera
rated it really liked it
Jul 11, 2013
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