The Facades: Book summary and reviews of The Facades by Eric Lundgren

The Facades

By Eric Lundgren

The Facades
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2013,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

Along the streets of the once-great Midwestern city of Trude, the ornate old buildings lie in ruin. Shrouded in disappointment and nostalgia, Trude has become a place to "lose yourself," as one tourist brochure puts it: a treacherous maze of convoluted shopping malls, barricaded libraries, and elitist assisted-living homes.

One night at Trude's opera house, the theater's most celebrated mezzo-soprano vanishes during rehearsal. When police come up empty-handed, the star's husband, a disconsolate legal clerk named Sven Norberg, must take up the quest on his own. But to discover the secret of his wife's disappearance, Norberg must descend into Trude's underworld and confront the menacing and bizarre citizens of his hometown: rebellious librarians, shifty music critics, a cop called the Oracle, and the minister of an apocalyptic church who has recruited Norberg's teenage son. Faced with the loss of everything he loves, Norberg follows his investigation to the heart of the city and through the buildings of a possibly insane modernist architect called Bernhard, whose elaborate vision will offer him an astonishing revelation.

Written with boundless intelligence and razor-sharp wit, The Facades is a comic and existential mystery that unfolds at the urgent pace of a thriller.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Lundgren's debut is a fierce, funny examination of loss, set against one of the most creative worlds in recent memory, and it's not to be missed." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers with discerning taste in fiction, especially fans of literary fiction laced with mystery, will love Lundgren's debut." - Booklist

"Deeply scented with atmosphere, Eric Lundgren's The Facades possesses more depth than a whodunit without relinquishing its existential suspense." - Barnes and Noble

"This debut novel defies genres while delivering humor and oddball characters…Like the best storytellers, Lundgren understands that his job is to ask questions, not answer them. This inventive novel defies genres: it will delight readers who enjoy clever wordplay, oddball characters, and a glimpse into a not-so-distant future." - ForeWord Reviews

"There are few things in life I enjoy as much as reading the work of someone with a powerful and unique imagination. Eric Lundgren has written exactly the kind of book I hope to stumble on, to be seized by, to be astonished by, to marvel at. I can't wait for his next, so I suspect I will re-read The Facades while I'm waiting." - Arthur Phillips, author of The Tragedy of Arthur and Prague

"The Facades will suck you in, and keep you reading. Eric Lundgren is a funny and perceptive and touching writer, and Sven Norberg's quest, through his crumbling and Lynchian Midwestern city, to learn about his disappeared wife is a journey you will be thrilled to have taken." - Charles Bock, author of the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Children

"The Facades is a bewitching labyrinth of a book. Reminiscent of Nabokov at his most playful and Borges at his most stimulating, Lundgren has written a novel that is as entertaining as it is full of indispensable insight." - Seth Fried, author of The Great Frustration

"Enter the world of The Facades at your own risk...in a seductive sleight-of-hand, Eric Lundgren is conjuring a whole world into motion behind your back, a world of sinister enchantment and misbegotten causes. The Facades challenges your sense of the world you think you know and live in. It is a dazzling invention." - Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex and The Thin Place

"To borrow one of his many felicitous phrases, Eric Lundgren has found a language of maximum power, compression, and elegance, not to mention desiccated wit, in his elegy to the dying Midwest. Sven Norberg's physical and philosophical search for his missing wife, conveyed through crystalline prose, is unexpectedly suspenseful and moving - part meditation on Wittgensteinian solitude, part hard-boiled detective story. Forget the diminutive label of debut; Lundgren writes like a veteran in his prime, and The Facades is simply one of the best novels I've read in years, period." - Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil

"The Facades is a throbbing heart-breaker, an old-fashioned page-turner, and a searing portrait of a fractured family. It's also a mesmerizing tour through a landscape both grittily familiar and thrillingly strange, a literary sleuthing that brings to mind Kafka, Sebald, Dostoevsky, Calvino, Coetzee, Murakami and Auster. But this city - an uncanny, menacing and beautiful architecture of sorrow - belongs wholly to Eric Lundgren and his unearthly command of language. I expect that, a generation from now, Lundgrenesque will be a common adjective."--Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane S.
The Facades
A very hard book to pinpoint or place into any known genre. There is a city called Trude, once known as the Munich of the Midwest, now known as a good place to commit suicide. A city that has decaying mansions, broken down buildings and an authoritarian mayor bent on destroying the towns library. Its beleaguered starring man is Sven, whose wife Molly has disappeared. He wants only to find her and finds clues everywhere but inside himself.

In a little over two hundred pages this book includes a assisted living center called Traumhaus, where one must apply to be admitted. Where scrabble games are a spectator sport and where a group of residents called "The Pinkies", yes they wear pink bathrobes and slippers, are the envy of the other residents.

There are gun toting librarians in ski masks manning a reference desk that most are afraid to approach.They are called the Trude 13, they sleep in the library, and refuse to leave because the mayor wants to blow up the building. It is important to note that the author works at a public library in St. Louis. Of course everyone thinks the mayor is upset with the library because he returned a waterlogged romance book (of course it was that way when he checked it out) and had to pay for the book.

Sven and his son are left to themselves, a job Sven is not up to. Of course there is a church ready to step in. What would a decrepit town be without a church preparing themselves for the second coming. Anyway there is so much more and I have to admit I really enjoyed reading this. For a first novel it is very good. The meaning, well that I think will change for each person that reads this. There are many different ways to go. Of course there is always the possibility that one many not find any meaning, but they will have a great time getting there.

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Eric Lundgren grew up in Minneapolis. He studied at Lewis & Clark College and earned his MFA at Washington University, where he was awarded a third-year fellowship. The Facades is his first novel. He works at a public library in St. Louis, where he lives with his wife, Eleanor, and their two cats.

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