Two Truths and a Mountain of Lies
A young journalist reconnects with a beloved storyteller from his childhood, only to discover a fine, artistic line between fact and fiction.
Photos by Emon Hassan
Peering out through a window in Thomas McKean's studio on 13th Street in the East Village, the Empire State Building is framed between cracked wood, its spire's glow peeking out from behind distant buildings shrouded by fog. McKean, who has a cap of short dark hair and the misleading smile of a prankster, has lived here for more than twenty-five years; the sprawling collection of books and newsprint that surround him making clear he isn't going anywhere soon.
I first met McKean when I was six. He was a storyteller and author who visited my grade school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When packing up my college apartment in Savannah, Georgia, I stumbled across his book, “My Evil Twin.” It’s a story about an only child who pretends to have a twin brother by dressing up in disguises every other day. Suddenly remembering that he told us stories, reliving my youth before committing to a career as a storyteller myself—took me aback. It reminded me of a time when sto…