Begin by Telling

By (author): Meg Remy

Never forget /
to connect the dots /
This book is an attempt to connect a couple.

In Begin by Telling, experimental pop sensation Meg Remy (U.S. Girls) spins a web out from her body to myriad corners of American hyper-culture. Through illustrated lyric essays depicting visceral memories from early childhood to present day, Remy paints a stark portrait of a spectacle-driven country.

As though channel surfing, 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. Each is shared through language of the body; the sensation of experiencing many of the defining events and moments of a country.

Immersive and utterly compelling, 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.


Meg Remy

MEG REMY, originally from Illinois, has been established as one of the most acclaimed songwriters and performers to emerge from Toronto’s underground music scene where she currently lives. The creative force behind the musical entity U.S. Girls, her discography includes Polaris Prize shortlisted albums, all of which also received Juno nominations for Best Alternative Album. Meg has a reputation for politically astute commentary and theatrical performance and was 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.


Begin by Telling reminds us that the very act of telling one’s story can change one’s life.” —Quill & Quire

“A compellingly non-linear account of a life touched by creative success, but also by public and private trauma.” —The Globe and Mail

“With great candor, Begin by Telling is an intersection of personal and collective trauma. It’s centred on a belief that telling one’s own story can be powerful and healing. Inventive from its very first page, it forces readers to reconsider what they think they know about girlhood, empathy and grief.” —Jessica Rose, Herizons

“To recover and grow from trauma is a slow and long process. But Remy shows that there can be a path forward. One can listen to the knowledge of the body. One can remember things as they are, not as what others want them to be. And one can share such stories, with themselves and with others — can begin, simply, ‘by telling.'”—Stanford Daily


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Excerpts & Samples ×

Vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with the same family we always take these kinds of trips with, because the children line up in age and we get along. The daughter-in-my-age-slot and me play mini-golf, feet away from our family suites. My turn to putt again. I decide to wind up like a pro and really whack the ball. It flies over or through a row of hedges into what we know on the other side is The Main Drag. No big thing. We have retrieved balls, kicked balls, racked balls, caught balls, dodged balls, served balls, teed up balls, inflated balls our whole life. We are old enough to do this.

We cross to the other side of the hedge and I spot the one that got away. (I believe I look both ways.) I start out across the multilane blacktop but don’t get far. Something flashes out of the corner of left eye. Body puts hands up just in time for the loudest sound I’ve ever felt. I’m fly—ing through the air, suddenly silent and magical. Now I’m skid-d-d-ing, exposed flesh kissing and rubbing asphalt as sound returns. People I don’t know gather above me. I’m-a-nurse takes off her shirt to reveal a sports bra. Don’t move an inch…hit by a van. Someone is screaming. It’s just my friend, she’s fine, always trying to make it about her. The sun is beating down on the scene. Cold sweat mixing with my blood, now peppered with little street rocks. I can feel when Mom is notified. I can hear her fear-footsteps landing one after the other, getting closer to what her new reality could be. When the paramedics arrive, I accept this fate. I am put on a stiff board with a neck brace and I am taken to a hospital in my bathing suit.

Mom and I take a cab back from the hospital to the hotel. I get out sore, shoeless, and road-rashed, but really actually fine, physically. People on a balcony somewhere are applauding the miracle. I know that if people are applauding me, Dad will be calling. I don’t feel like explaining. I want to disappear into something larger than anything having to do with me. I will never hear the end of this. They’ll all say I got hit chasing a ball like a dog. Your story in the wrong hands can be such a cruel poker.

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120 Pages
8.50in * 5.50in * .30in


March 16, 2021


Book*hug Press



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