Happy US Publication Day to Meg Remy’s Begin by Telling! Since its Canadian release last month on March 16th, Remy’s genre-defying debut book has received well-deserved and thoughtful praise. In a profile in The Globe and Mail, Brad Wheeler writes that Remy’s book is “remarkable for its candidness, intimacy and potent social commentary.” In a new review for The Stanford Daily, Lily Nilipour calls Begin by Telling “a short, punchy, oft-graphic reckoning with personal trauma and abuse in an equally violent landscape of American culture.” In an interview with Michael Barclay for SOCAN’s Words and Music, Remy says, “I wanted to leave a trail of breadcrumbs that created a larger picture that was my life.” Fittingly, Barclay describes Begin by Telling as “a journey into the life experiences that have shaped Remy’s work.”
More recently, Jay Gabler, host of the Rock and Roll Book Club on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current, connected with Remy to talk about her powerful book, and about what’s next for U.S. Girls. “I think ‘going there’ is hardest to reconcile with yourself,” Remy says to Gabler. “You know, when something comes out loud, whether written or you say it out loud, it’s not just in your head anymore.”
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’s “can’t-wait-to-read” spring 2020 preview lists, and is available to order from our online shop, or from your local independent bookstore.
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.