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Tim Hall, Full Of It: The Birth, Death and Life of an Underground Newspaper

Though formally a novel, Tim Hall's Full Of It: The Birth, Death and Life of an Underground Newspaper is based heavily on the author's real-life experiences as writer and editor of a scrappy underground newspaper in Manhattan during the mid-1990s. The paper (a self-described "bar rag") is created by a memorable bunch of oddballs, including the narrator, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic; the poet and artist Jack, who at first is de facto editor despite having little interest in managing anything; Buzzy, a borderline psychotic whose sole talents seem to be aggravating everyone else; and various misfit writers, artists and hangers-on. The story is about good versus evil, as the paper's staff soon divides into two camps, with the good (the narrator, Jack and co-founder Ross) and the evil (Buzzy and her various minions) fighting desperately for control; interestingly, though, this good/evil dichotomy isn't absolute, as two staff members who seem good at the beginning have gone completely psycho by the end. The book is very much a coming-of-age story (despite the narrator being in his mid-twenties, and not the teenager usually depicted in such stories) as the narrator, formerly drifting through life, finally finds himself as a writer and begins the first steps toward making something of his life.

Full Of It is a funny, lively and very entertaining read, and is set within in an artistic community and era which are fondly and lovingly described but are also, sadly, have all but disappeared. Definitely worth checking out.

(Disclaimer: Tim Hall is a local writer whom, although we haven't met in person, I have corresponded with extensively during the past year and consider to be a friend. So take my assessment of the book however you wish; I'm the first to admit that I'm no literary critic, but instead a fan. And I'm a fan of this book and the writer, and if you check out either one you just might become a fan as well. Just saying.)

January 27, 2010 in Books | Permalink