Magazine Review by Katy Haas
True Story veers away from their usual issues in publishing Issue 35. “Not Your Ordinary Experience of Desire” is a collaborative piece between Susannah Borysthen-Tkacz and Justin Chen. When I saw this was written by two writers, I expected the nonfiction piece inside to jump back and forth between their points of view, and I suppose it does, but it does so in a more unique way than what we usually see. The entire issue is printed horizontally, Borysthen-Tkacz’s narration on the left side of the page, and Chen’s on the right.
The joint piece is broken up into three parts. The first focuses on each writer’s childhood: Borysten-Tkacz’s early history as a gymnast and the beginning of an eating disorder, and Chen’s unfamiliarity with American pop culture and intimacy. In part two, they each identify the ways their relationship begins to deteriorate; he focuses on sacrifice and giving up parts of one’s self, while she begins to realize she’s queer. In part three, the two start to shape themselves outside of their relationship, finding out who they truly are apart from each other.
By writing together, they fill in gaps the other leaves behind. We’re able to see both sides of the same story, neatly arranged next to each other on the page. Both write with a sincerity I found touching and easy to connect with. Despite the tumultuous events, they manage to bare their true story with honesty and grace.
About the reviewer: Katy Haas is Assistant Editor at NewPages. Recent poetry can be found in Taco Bell Quarterly, petrichor, and other journals. She regularly blogs at: https://newpagesblog.com/.