The Facades

The Facades

3.5 4
by Eric Lundgren
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

…  See more details below

Overview

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 andexistential mystery that unfolds at the urgent pace of a thriller.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating, complex debut novel, a famous mezzo-soprano vanishes from rehearsal, leaving behind her husband, Sven, to care for their disaffected son and search for her in the labyrinthine streets of fictional Midwestern city Trude. Though most of the plot involves Sven’s existential and often humorous detective work, Trude itself is the biggest of Lundgren’s many successes here. The once-great city is well rendered not only in its physical appearance (“The city assembled itself, scattered lights in the old skyscrapers meandering the night sky like notes on a staff”), but also in its oddities, such as the militarized library where the librarians are in a stalemate with police, a pretentious nursing home that is more difficult to gain admission to than the local college, and bathroom graffiti that reads, “There is no use in killing oneself; one always does it too late.” Ratcheted onto the spine of an un-put-downable mystery and brimming with entertaining dialogue and unique, well-wrought characters, this is one of those rare books that corners every mood, every emotion, and throws them into the spotlight. 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. Agent: Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency. (Sept.)
The New Yorker
"'The Facades' belongs to the same subgenre as Paul Auster's 'New York Trilogy,' Michael Chabon's 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union,' and Jonathan Lethem's 'Motherless Brooklyn': detective novels influenced as much by Kafka as they are by Chandler."
From the Publisher
"If there's a cross between Wittgenstein and a beach read, this is it-and yes, it's as fun and strange as that sounds." —Book Riot

"“This is a detective novel that owes as much to Haruki Murakami and Italo Calvino as to John D. MacDonald and James M. Cain … The Facades belongs to the same subgenre as Paul Auster’s New  York Trilogy, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn.” — Jon Michaud, NewYorker.com’s Page-Turner Blog

"Equal parts George Saunders, Raymond Chandler and Ludwig Wittgenstein…The Facades is an intelligent and beguiling book that shouldn’t be missed."—Time Out New York

"Eric Lundgren’s eccentric, droll and immensely charming little novel, had me by its second page. [A] fond elegy for a certain uncongenial strain of high modernism."—Salon

"Fascinating, painfully funny, darkly surrealistic, deeply allusive…The Facades is a fine first novel by a very promising young writer."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
"[Lundgren] has created an evocative landscape for his characters to move through, and it’s one that resonates along with those characters’ dreams and delusions."—Minneapolis Star Tribune  
 
"You simply have to read it. The Facades is unencumbered by vanity and the hollow flips and twists of the showoff. It is a beautifully written, honest, humble, and devastating novel. Read it."—ArtVoice

 

"Lundgren incorporates thoughtful details unexpected word choices, and striking turns of phrase that linger with the reader long after the book has ended. He has a keen sense of the mental abstraction that accompanies loss and translates it to the page with devastating accuracy. Readers with discerning taste in fiction, especially fans of literary fiction laced with mystery, will love Lundgren's debut."—Booklist

"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

"Ratcheted onto the spine of an un-put-downable mystery and brimming with entertaining dialogue and unique, well-wrought characters, this is one of those rare books that corners every mood, every emotion, and throws them into the spotlight. 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, Starred Review

"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

"Lundgren has laden this novel with puzzling and strange imagery, and the prose is darkly and dryly funny. [A] realistically strange world, much more than the shape of any one plot or facade." —Los Angles Review of Books

"Slim in length but intricate in architecture, Lundgren deposits readers into a world of loss and mourning. ..[T]he results are terrific." —The Rumpus

Kirkus Reviews
When a mezzo-soprano star of the local opera disappears, her worrywart husband must explore the depths of a bizarre and labyrinthine city for clues to her whereabouts. Some debut manuscripts are better left in desk drawers. That's not to say that librarian-by-day Lundgren's debut is without certain merits. The writer clearly has some syntactical skill, and his experiment in worldbuilding is ambitious. However, a seriously disagreeable narrator and a gloss of highbrow humor take the shine off this slice of literary absurdity quickly. Our narrator is Sven Norberg, a schlubby, smoking cubicle jockey who lives in the fictional city of Trude. Trude is a really weird amalgam of Midwestern highways and shopping malls punctuated with bizarre European-influenced behemoths designed by a mysterious architect named Bernhard. It's a city that has barricaded its libraries, creating a secretive underground of armed librarians, and it's, conversely, one that is obsessed with opera and other forms of high culture. Its superstar was Norberg's wife, Molly, who disappeared with no warning, leaving Sven to raise their teenage son, Kyle. Things happen--Sven starts sleeping with a very young girl named Plea; Kyle falls under the influence of a cultlike church; and clues to Molly's whereabouts start appearing in coded entries in the local newspaper. Later, a woman named Cassandra indicates to Sven that she may have clues to Molly's frame of mind. But none of it ever goes anywhere. It's as if the author is introducing odd situations and absurd events simply to shout at readers how terribly witty it all is. When asked for guidance from his son, Sven answers bluntly. "As I see it, the point is to endure as much shit as you can without any illusions," he says. Add on to all of this an ambiguous, confusing denouement, and the final product is a pretentious, frustrating mess. A hollow satire working so very hard at being clever that it forgets to deliver any emotional truth.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781468306873
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
09/12/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Slim in length but intricate in architecture, Lundgren deposits readers into a world of loss and mourning. ..[T]he results are terrific." —The Rumpus

Meet the Author

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 first novel. He works at a public library in St. Louis, where he lives with his wife, Eleanor, and their two cats.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Facades: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No text was provided for this review.