Jerry McGuinty is a blue-collar Canadian man from a long line of blue-collar Canadian men, all whizzes with plaster. But the latest Jerry isn't content with wall work. ''I'm going to build some solid f -- -in houses,'' he boasts early in Some Great Thing. It's a dry-as-sawdust subject for a novel, but McAdam pours the foundation for a promising literary future, sometimes despite himself. His stream-of-consciousness prose is relentlessly alive. It's also indulgent and messy, like a housepainter with splatter issues. The weakest link is the book's other major character, Simon Struthers, a boring white-collar cog in Ottawa's bureaucracy who is similarly determined to construct wonders in the suburban world. Half of Some Great Thing is pretty great indeed. The other half's a fixer-upper.