Emelia Symington-Fedy

Emelia Symington-Fedy grew up with her girl gang on the railroad tracks of a small town in British Columbia. Unsupervised and wild, the girls explored the power and shortcomings of “best” friendships and their growing sexuality.

Emelia Symington-Fedy’s narrative runs on two tracks: one that begins in 1991 when, at the age of almost 14, she moves to a town in rural British Columbia and meets a new group of friends, and another that begins in 2011, when an 18-year-old in that same small town is murdered on the railway tracks where Symington-Fedy and her friends hung out. Paired storylines like this can be tricky, a challenge for authors to keep the stakes high enough and the plots paced appropriately so that readers remain engaged with the parallel accounts, but Symington-Fedy is a skilled enough writer to navigate this. Both timelines in Skid Dogs are riveting right up until the last page.

The later narrative also involves Symington-Fedy working through the challenging relationship she has with her mother. Theirs is a dynamic that may be familiar to girls with mothers who were influenced by second-wave feminism. Symington-Fedy’s mother is fiercelyfd independent, a sort of homesteader who does her own renovations and is keen on raising chickens and canning. But when, at 14, Symington-Fedy gets blackout drunk and likely endures some kind of sexual assault, her mother is more angry and embarrassed than sympathetic. Pointing to an old school picture of her daughter, Symington-Fedy’s mother says, “They did whatever they wanted to you. I’ll never be able to look at that girl again.” In 2011, Symington-Fedy is also trying to quell her fear and rage over her mother’s terminal cancer, often making her mother the target of her outbursts. In spite of the difficulties, it’s clear that they love each other fiercely, even if that love sometimes is expressed as anger.

Symington-Fedy’s prose is keen and unsparing, especially when describing her own motivations and behaviour. She’s not one to let herself off the hook, even in moments when it would surely have been tempting to. Her writing can be screamingly funny, and in serious passages she never resorts to sentimentality. Every emotional moment feels fully earned.

Skid Dogs is so much more than a coming-of-age memoir. It’s an examination of the dangers and joys of girlhood. It’s a sober look at the way our culture treats women’s bodies, particularly young women’s bodies. It’s a close-up on the social dynamics of teenage girls, one that never shies away from the disgusting or difficult. But mostly, it’s just a really, really good read.

This event is presented in partnership with the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library

Ali Gassan's book, Is There Bacon in Heaven?

Author Reading

The author talk will be Emelia Symington-Fedy talking about her memoir, her writing process, and having lively Q&A with the crowd.

This is an opportunity for fans of memoirs, books and fans of Emelia to hear from, and meet the author.

The seating is limited so if you love hearing great stories from one of our best Canadian writers, get your ticket today!

June 21, 2024
7:00-8:30 p.m
Reading Only:

Owen Sound
Library Auditorium

Writing Workshop

The writing workshop will have Emelia Symington-Fedy hosting amateur, and experienced writers through her methods.

This workshop will concentrate on how to organize and begin to put together your own memoir. If you want to participate in important conversations, or are interested in writing your own memoir, join us and learn from for the writing workshop, or for both events!

June 22, 2024

10:00am – 12:00p.m

Workshop Only:

Owen Sound
Library Auditorium