Happy Publication Day to Meg Remy’s Begin by Telling! We’re so excited to share this immersive and utterly compelling book with you, which Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara calls “powerful and distinctive.”
The threads in Begin by Telling nimbly interweave with probing quotes and statistics, demonstrating the importance of personal storytelling, radical empathy, and the necessity of reflecting on society and one’s self within that construct. Through illustrated lyric essays depicting visceral memories from early childhood to present day, Remy paints a stark portrait of a spectacle-driven country: we catch glimpses of Desert Storm, the Oklahoma City Bombing, random street violence, the petrochemical industry, small town Deadheads, a toilet with uterus lining in it, the county STD clinic, and missionaries at the front door. As author Shazia Hafiz Ramji writes for Quill & Quire, “Begin by Telling reminds us that the very act of telling one’s story can change one’s life.” The book made the Toronto Star’s, CBC Books’, and Shrapnel Magazine‘s “can’t-wait-to-read” lists, and now, the wait is over: it’s available to order from our online shop or your local independent bookstore.
As part of our celebration, we asked Remy about writing, reading, happiness, and caffeine substitutes, mostly in that order. We’re equally excited to share her answers to our questions with you. (Oh, and before we forget, Meg’s latest album, Heavy Light, garnered a Juno nomination last week for Best Alternative Album. This marks her third Juno nomination. Congrats and good luck, Meg!)
B*H: What are you currently writing?
MR: Journaling along with the lunar cycle (I am on my 3rd cycle of this type of personal note-taking).
B*H: What are you currently reading?
MR: The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page.
B*H: Where do you write?
MR: Mostly in my mind and in the conversations I have with others.
B*H: What do you write with?
MR: I prefer pencil or TextEdit.
B*H: What makes you happy?
MR: Knowing that happiness is not very important.
B*H: How did you know that your most recently written book was finished?
MR: When I was told that copies were ready to be picked up.
B*H: Do you drink tea, coffee, neither, or both?
MR: Herbal tea, decaf coffee and lots of Dandy Blend.
B*H: Describe your favourite article of clothing.
MR: An XL sweatshirt, I only wear inside out, that is almost a rag.
B*H: Describe the sky where you are.
B*H: Tell us a very short story, or write a very short poem.
MR: My husband tried to mail a can of tuna to a friend today but forgot the address at home so will have to try again tomorrow.
Meg Remy is a multi-disciplinary artist, and performer. Originally from Illinois, she is established as one of the most acclaimed songwriters and performers to emerge from Toronto’s eclectic underground music scene where she currently lives. Primarily known as the creative force behind the musical entity U.S. Girls, her celebrated discography spans early experimental works released on the Siltbreeze label, and includes three Polaris Prize shortlisted albums released by 4AD: Half Free (2015), In a Poem Unlimited (2018), and Heavy Light (2020). All three albums also garnered Juno nominations for Best Alternative Album. Meg has toured extensively through Europe and North America, establishing a reputation for politically astute commentary and theatrical performances with her extended U.S. Girls band, named the best live act of 2018 by Paste magazine. During this time Remy has maintained a visual arts practice, exhibiting collage work and directing several music videos and other video art works including her short film Woman’s Advocate (2014), in which she also performed. Begin by Telling is her first book.