Monday, March 15, 2010
Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur

Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 16pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Review by Mark McCawley

In her second published story, "Men and the Drink", Humber School alumna Julie McArthur has written a unique story of one woman's dealings with all the men in her life. What makes this story so unique, though, is how McArthur abandons traditional narrative to develop her protagonist - instead relying upon the relationships, themselves, with the various men in her protagonist's life to describe her character.

Whether it's her relationship with a distant father on a road trip, or a co-dependant relationship with her lover, or a friendship with an aging widower -- who she really is changes to suit the man she happens to be with at the time. For her father, she's constantly the little girl attempting to please. For her lover, she is the exact opposite - vixen. For the aging widower, she participates in his weekly fantasy reenactment becoming a replacement for his dead wife over lunch - seeing the meal for something more than what it actually is.

Returning from the road trip with her father, she learns of her lover's infidelity which thrusts her into a fit of alcohol-fuelled anger and confusion:

"I want to throw all his shit out the window, but I'll never be one of those girls. I drink gin I'd hid in the freezer and pass out on the couch.
I wake to the turning key.
"Hi baby. When did you get back?" He smiles.
"I can't believe you slept with her."
"Andrea, you stupid fuck!" I yell, sitting up.
Now I want to throw the bottle at his head, but I'm not that kind of girl either." (p. 13)

Indeed, Julie McArthur is a writer to watch. If only to see where her unconventional approach takes her fiction next.


Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur is part of the Black Bile Press One-offs Chapbooks Series Three (also featuring Tony O’Neill and Nathaniel George Moore).

Order all three books for only $10.00 (plus $2.00 postage), for a ridiculously good final price of $12.00 for all three books. Or order one chapbook (please specify the title) for $6.00 ($5.00 for the book, plus $1.00 postage). US orders, the same price applies, as the exchange rate to Canadian currency will cover the higher postal costs. UK and RoW orders, please email for the price in your currency.

Order by sending a cheque (made payable to M. Firth) to:

Matthew Firth
Black Bile Press
573 Gainsborough Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario


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