Full Of It

There are some things that can really make me feel bohemian and rebellious. Listening to “Rent” when I am broke, hearing the song “I Want It All” by Queen, and eating hummus are a few. Reading Full Of It, author Tim Hall’s newest book, definitely falls in that group as well.

It is by no means a literary masterpiece. The pacing is hard to keep up with at times, as Hall tends to jump through large chunks of time in only a few short paragraphs. It’s a bit jarring to skip over weeks in only a few sentences, or in one instance two months in one paragraph.

The writing is also inconsistent, and it seems like Hall cannot decide on whether to write in short, precise sentences, or in long flowing ones. This choice, however, works once the reader becomes accustomed to it, and complements the edgy story. It also gives Hall’s writing a certain lyricism about it.

It’s not a good gift for Grandma’s birthday though; the language is anything but tame. However, it does this without being vulgar or forced, and without the excessive cussing Full Of It would not be true to its subject matter.

Based on a true story, the novel is narrated from the perspective of Tim, as he struggles to stay alive and sane in New York’s East Village. After various unfortunate relationships and jobs, as well as years spent in a drunken fog he gets his act together, gets sober, and begins writing short stories for the underground newspaper The East Village Troglodyte.

He meets all sorts of colourful characters along the way including Jack Hirsch, The Troglodyte’s gentle giant layout designer and columnist; Buzzy, a self-described biker chick who hails from London, but has a summer house in the British Virgin Isles; and Wilson, an employee at a business Tim begins temping at, who is the most beautiful women he has every seen, but who has a sad past.

When Buzzy is made editor things start going wrong, and when a serious disaster strikes the staff of the paper, the once-flourishing bar rag begins to disintegrate along with Tim’s briefly happy personal life.

You can tell that this book is a labour of love for Hall, and in a world where all you need is an account on LiveJournal to get your opinion known, it’s refreshing to read about a time when it required a lot more drive to get your stuff published.

It’s great to have a novel like Full Of It to remind us about the power of a few photocopied pages, folded by hand.

Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)

Related Reads