Although set in the burgeoning hipster neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the mid-1990s, Half Empty
owes much of its tone and subject matter to the French Decadent authors of 100 years earlier, especially Joris-Karl Huysmans (Against Nature) and Villiers de L'isle-Adam (Cruel Tales). Like its predecessors, Half Empty
is primarily focused on the degeneration of the individual, but it is also a meditation on the garden-variety decadence of a culture in the midst of an economic boom - the protagonist notes with some disdain the waves of educated, seemingly comfortable young people coming into the neighborhood, who nevertheless dress down in the style of the working classes ("fauxletariat" is Hall's memorable term for them). Triangulation is a key theme, as the protagonist - a young man named Dennis Huckle who has just completed his first 30 days sober - finds himself caught between two women, who are each struggling with other men in their lives. By using a deceptively simple, direct narrative style that slips effortlessly from journalistic naturalism to gothic grandiosity withouth skipping a beat, Hall weaves an extraordinarily subtle, complex, and truthful psychological portrait of early sobriety, romantic obsession, family pain, and regret.
Emerson Dameron, Zine World - "I first encountered Tim Hall's writing through the long-evaporated website Bullymag.com, which published his righteous takedown of AA. Ostensibly, his first novel is also about giving up the firewater, but it's more about a young, intense New Yorker trapped between lives. Even in the book's darkest quarters, Hall underscores the humor in his characters' desperation. All the while, his writing snaps like a fallen power line. Born ranters can sometimes pull off enviable fiction."
Project Seven: "Half Empty is a meditation on alienation, humiliation, irrationality, narcissism, and the basic failure and inability of all people to live up to being as hip, good, and basically human as society says we should be. It is a story about a young man named Dennis who just got over years of heavy drinking. After his drinking days are over he gets a stupid job working at an office, goes to lame parties where board games are played, but the main action is Dennis interactions with two distinctly well developed characters named Laurie and Shauna....The Shauna character is a masterpiece."
Kirkus Discoveries: "First-time novelist Hall takes a few stabs at social satirechic loft parties, twelve-step programsbut mainly sticks to the melodrama of Denniss love life. His characters are vivid, if somewhat overdrawnespecially Dennis, a mixture of absurd macho posturing and deflated self-loathing, with an attitude towards the opposite sex that veers between gushing sentimentality and crass sexual opportunism."
Mediadiet.net: "An awesome local novel."