The Facades
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The Facades

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  283 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Along the streets of the once-great Midwestern city of Trude, the ornate old buildings lie in ruin. Shrouded in disappointment andnostalgia, 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 mos...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 12th 2013 by Overlook Hardcover
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Chandler Smith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S.
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 as...more
I like to think I'm an intelligent person, but I think I'm not smart enough to understand this book. Yes, I understand that our narrator, Sven, is unreliable in the sense that he remembers all of the good things about his missing wife Molly and none of the bad. He doesn't seem to realize that she was unhappy and that he was apparently pushing her away, even when other characters almost come right out and say it. And I suppose the whole point of the book is reminding people the dangers of becomin...more
Sep 21, 2013 Drew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: bea13
4.5 out of 5. I can't exactly say why I'm not giving this a full 5. Perhaps it's the way it was a bit slow to start or the few moments here or there that felt unnecessary or superfluous. Although, I almost wonder if this book will grow in my estimation some years down the line - re-reading it to discover new facets, uncover new tricks of language, and so on. New light shed upon things I previously thought to be just... there. Who is to say? Readers should understand (and be warned) that the slig...more
All along I felt that I had missed something. Some piece of history or crucial description of a character. In the last chapter I realized that I knew all I needed to know, and it was ok to wonder about the rest. Absolutely perfect ending. Will definitely revisit this book in the future.
Rene Saller
The Facades is an unapologetically literary novel, teeming with sly allusions to other books, mostly of the experimental and postmodern variety. If this description makes it sound irritating, too clever by half, I have failed to describe it adequately. Let me try again: The Facades is cerebral but not heartless; surreal, not unreal. It has the familiar strangeness of a recurring dream. You know you’re home, but the streets are all askew. The first-person narrator, a depressed and defiantly dull...more
Vicki Ghilardi
I think 2.5 is more accurate for me. It’s definitely got some really clever elements, but they feel wasted on a weak, throwaway story.

There’s a moment in the book when the protagonist, Sven, is reading the memoir of the city of Trude’s most influential architect, the crazy but brilliant Klaus Bernhard. Bernhard calls his lost love, Ulli, “’the missing heart’ of his architecture.” As irony would have it, The Facades seems to suffer a similar loss.

In a book as stylish and hipsterific as this one,...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
The world is everything that is the case.

Unless, that is, you’re stuck spending time in Trude, the fictional city at the heart of debut author Eric Lundgren’s novel The Facades. Once considered the “Munich of the Midwest” in the late 1890s, the place “still looks beautiful on a map,” but the next century would prove to be most barbarous to its one beautiful feats of architectural wonder.

Grand hotels, windowed with cardboard, still advertised ten-dollar rooms on their outer walls. Decrepit mansio
Shaun Wright
Lundgren’s debut The Facades follows Sven Norberg through the Midwestern town of Trude, hunting for his missing wife. One night, Molly, Trude’s celebrated mezzo-soprano, disappears after rehearsal one night with no hints as to what happened. Convinced that something sinister was at work, Sven becomes obsessed tracking down his wife. His hunt takes him through many of Trude’s unique buildings and interacting with some very odd characters. There is his son who is drifting away after the disappeara...more
Ugh. I guess I am too stupid for this book. Halfway through, I went to my local library and picked up Calvino's "Invisible Cities" to see if it would help. Nope. While the sentences were riveting at times, with many interesting words and turns of phrases, after a while I just got the feeling that the author was laughing at silly, stupid me. I don't like opera. I don't like architecture. And I don't like stories that go absolutely nowhere. I hoped it would get better. Then I hoped it would end, e...more
I received an advanced copy of this book at ALA and really enjoyed it. I've read many "near future dystopias" but this is a present-day, dystopic novel, set in the fictional midwestern city of Trude. Instead of inserting a bits of sci-fi and tech-based tropes, it lingers in the absurdist and existential. In my mind's eye, it is always overcast in Trude.

I immediately lent my copy to my sister, an architect. This is like invisible cities, she said. Never read it, now I've got another book to seek...more
Huh. I'm bewildered. Which is generally a good thing, in this context.

Trude's atmosphere is just about spot on. The city's weird vibes are oh so well done-- absurd without reaching the point of weird just for the sake of weird, and familiar enough for it to be considerably unsettling, and simultaneously just a little bit loveable. Very good, Lundgren, very good. The conclusion is satisfyingly unsatisfying-- well done again. It's probably in some respects a nod towards The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle...more
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: fall-2013

Review by Scott Beauchamp

“What do they understand about opera in New York anyway?” I asked.

“A lot, actually,” Molly said.

“Opera is about failure and heartbreak. Near misses, tragically missed opportunities yearning, and nostalgia. Is there any better place to cultivate these feelings than in Trude?”

“Nice try, Norberg.”

“Can the humiliation of Pagliacci really be understood by Wall Street bankers in several-thousand-dollar suits? Can the madness of Lucia be...more
May 11, 2014 Alan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Flyover people
Recommended to Alan by: An isometric projection
"I despise writers," he said. "They're like roaches. You kill one of them and a hundred more are born."
—The Baron, p.188

When your subject is as drab and mopey as a decaying industrial city can be, it's very difficult to keep your novel from being drab and mopey as well. Eric Lundgren's The Facades belies its colorful jacket to serve up the unfortunate story of Trude, a moribund municipality somewhere in the flatlands of the American Midwest (I'm thinking Indiana, although references to I-99 woul...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tad Deshler
I'm not sure why I was drawn to read this book, perhaps the rather quirky description of the city Trude. Quirky indeed, but that didn't really make up for the depressing interactions that the main character Sven has with the city and it's denizens. I'm not above reading about tragedy, but this guy didn't have much happen to him that could be called especially tragical (did his wife leave him?); he was just unable to change his circumstances and environment.
Karli (Typographical Era)
Quirky, magnetic, and multifaceted, The Facades is an unsolvable mystery of a book, but it's worth the effort! Vaguely reminiscent of Amelia Gray's Threats, the book has a slightly sinister undertone and an unreliable narrator in a familiar search for his missing wife. Structured like a literary labyrinth that serpentines around topics like marriage, family, loss, grief, sex, communication, and architecture, you may never find your way out!
Washington Centerville Public Library
Lundgren’s debut The Facades follows Sven Norberg through the Midwestern town of Trude, hunting for his missing wife. One night, Molly, Trude’s celebrated mezzo-soprano, disappears after rehearsal one night with no hints as to what happened. Convinced that something sinister was at work, Sven becomes obsessed tracking down his wife. His hunt takes him through many of Trude’s unique buildings and interacting with some very odd characters. There is his son who is drifting away after the disappeara...more
Once again I was misled by the book jacket. Reading the description I thought this would be a mystery set in a quirky, crumbling city. While there are some quirks - the city of Trude seems like a fascinating place - there is no real mystery here and the pacing is slow.

fSven Norberg's wife disappeared one night and he is adrift without her. He stumbles through his days and searches for her at night. The distance between Sven and his teenage son grows in the wake of his wife's disappearance, but...more
Leah Lucci
This book is rife with beautiful description, intriguing characters, and perplexing settings.

But it doesn't make any sense.

The guy's wife disappears. Nobody seems spectacularly concerned about her disappearance. Mysterious encoded messages pop up in the newspaper about her whereabouts, but lead nowhere.

He wanders around and has interactions with people that don't lead to anything.

Simply put, this book is all style and no substance.

Oh, and at the end, to cap all this off, (view spoiler)...more
Erik Deckers
I'm torn on this book. On the one hand, Eric Lundgren is a brilliant writer who has wrestled language and made it his, and who can weave an interesting story, and then stick that inside another interesting story, like a literary turducken.

Having said that, I hated this book. No, not the book, the story. Not even the story, the main character. Sven Norberg is a weak and mediocre man whose sympathetic plight drew me in, until I realized too late that his situation was his own damn fault, and if he...more
Jan 13, 2014 astried added it
Shelves: nlb, 2014
only two

i lost track on how where I found out about this book. It's really a odd duck, this one. It's not that the writing is bad, it's actually good. Interesting topic, mistery of a lost wife with background of a crumbling town. It called out to my mistery, snobbish lit and urban enthusiast soul. But, at some point, an overpowering feeling just appeared. Suddenly it's like I'm reading A Series of Unfortunate Events for adult. The black premonition, puzzle clues scattered everywhere, the feeling...more
As we come to know the protagonist Sven Norberg, we also come to know his city, Trude and by the novel's end we understand how the man and city are inextricably linked. Lundgren's debut is tightly written, alternating between a driving mystery and elegiac whisperings of what has been lost. Just as the Ringstrasse mall (one of the fascinating structures built by the singular architect Bernhard) spirals from the familiar the obscure in its design, we follow Norberg through his own spiral to his di...more
Mattie Voorheis
A couple months ago, a professor assigned our class a large volume of Marx's writings on American imperialism. This novel was slightly more confusing. Disparate plot pieces, from obscure German opera references to the founder of the rapidly deteriorating city of Trude's unlikely affinity for all things snowmen-themed, proved to be quirky, yet ultimately inconclusive story elements. I slipped "The Facades" into my library's book-drop relieved that I could finally quit grasping at straws re: why t...more
Melissa Araujo
Im not sure if I loved or hated this book or if I just felt as apathetic as the characters. At no point did I come to care about any of the characters with the possible exception of Molloy. The only thing I can say for certain Lundgren likes to hear himself talk and obviously took several years of high school Germam. However, there is something intriguing enough about his style that I will give his other book a try.
I gave this book four stars because I loved reading it, but... I like quirky novels that are Kafka-esque, however, I'm still unsure if this book was too quirky for its own good. Or rather, if it was quirky just to be quirky; if it was ambiguous just to be ambiguous. While I love ambiguity, I'm not sure if it meandered just a bit beyond where it needed to go and I was a little frustrated when I reached the last page.

Again, all I know is that I enjoyed reading about Sven Norberg and the City of T...more
I enjoyed the read about this starkly surreal community and it's unflattering realism. I am disappointed with the character Sven, however, and how develops (or fails to develop) during the course of the novel. This very aspect may nevertheless be exactly the point author Eric Lundgren wishes to make.
Courtney Duncan
His writing style is amazing. I am not kidding you, some of the most beautiful, unusual descriptions I have EVER read. But the ending completely prevented me from giving this five stars. I have never finished a book feeling less satisfied, and I have read millions of books. I am so frustrated I could cry.
An interesting premise, set up, and then failed execution. A ton of avenues are introduced throughout this story that could take the plot somewhere but they all end up to be red herrings on a journey that really goes nowhere for the narrator. Could have been way more interesting.
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Eric Lundgren was born in Cleveland and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he turned to reading as a survival method in the winters. He studied at Lewis & Clark College and received his MFA from the Writing Program at Washington University, where he was awarded a third-year fellowship. His writing has appeared in Tin House, Quarterly West, and the Quarterly Conversation. The Facades is h...more
More about Eric Lundgren...
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