Broken Lines is an illustrated novel by Tom Pappalardo. It is short for a novel, and peppered with illustrations, photo-manipulations, pop-culture references, and the occasional marginalia. Unlike regular novels, it also makes heavy use of whitespace and those illustrations to play into the pace of the novel and how it reads. They aren’t just things added on to look cool; they impact how the book is read and are part of the story, taking cue from Pappalardo’s graphic design background. It reads like the hipster bastard child of Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and B-list horror, if you took that hypothetical literary child, and then fed it several pounds of sugar and a few carafes of coffee.
The tale concerns the travels of a spaceman and cowboy, and the waitress they rescue from her burning trailer as they hunt down demons and try to return a non-sparkly old man of a vampire to his home. If you expect a serious adventure, you’re reading the wrong book. This is a bubbly, snarky adventure in the land of the absurd. It’s a pleasant read and a good escape, if you need a breather from the land of stories of dark dystopias or gritty heroes.
The references the book makes should be familiar to most of you internet denizens; though some of the graphic design elements may seem a bit esoteric, taking hints from everything from vintage advertisements, Text-based computer games like ZORK,and early comic book art. They add to the story; but if you don’t get every reference it doesn’t matter: the book will still be enjoyable and fun.
If you enjoy gonzo and light adventures into the land of the strange, this is the book for you.