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The Facades

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  118 reviews
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 mo
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published September 12th 2013 by Harry N. Abrams
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3.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  543 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Chandler Smith
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S ☔
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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,
Rene Saller
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
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 read this book in a day (a long day, but a day no less). I'm a sucker for unreliable narrators, the mildly surreal, and vigilante librarians. Frankly, the book had me at vigilante librarians. It's a strange book and not one to come to if you're looking for a tidy narrative that easily resolves itself. Ostensibly about a man living through the months after his wife vanishes, it quickly emerges that this is hardly a mystery novel. Instead, this is a book to read for the pleasure of language, a s ...more
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2013
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Leah Lucci
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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)
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Tad Deshler
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 11, 2019 added it
The guy can certainly write, technically. He has a talent for wielding imagery in service of his ideas, the story had a consistent tone and atmosphere, and his wit made me laugh several times. That is why I persevered to the end. But the slim book felt longer than its 215 pages. Maybe I'm not erudite enough, but it seems like most of the connections between the themes and subplots were just barely sketched out, and then half-erased. If you're into that, give it a go, I guess.

I will say that I am
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I got major Lemony Snicket and Murakami vibes from this. Lundgren’s writing is sad and melancholy but in a funny, sarcastic way. There’s seems to be a thick, gray haze hanging over this entire story.

Absolutely absurd at times, yet incredibly intelligent, this story was just the right mix of mundane and interesting. Lundgren has figured out the key to adding depth to characters by divulging very specific and seemingly random details about their lives. I became so attached to Sven in the span of 2
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Who should read this book? People who have been dying for magic realist literature from the Midwest. Fargo was good for that, yes, but this is a whole other order of magnitude. Why should Latin America have all the fun?

This book has clever references, satirical observations, and clearly the architectural elements of the world creation were tremendous fun, but it is not my kind of book. The main character is unpleasant, self-pitying, self-centred and kind of creepy at times. I pretty much need to
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absurdist story that doesn't veer into comedy

This book has more in common with Camus than it does with Christopher Moore, and that's a good thing. The labyrinthine structure of Trude and the puzzling characters that live therein provide all of the necessary sense of unreality that this story needs to be an absurdist story without just playing it up for laughs like Heller and Moore often do.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
While the author did a good job with motifs and some thematic elements, in the end this was just another at times gross book by a white dude, and I just did not care about the main character or any of his non-struggles. The surprise at the end was not surprising and even if it had been I didn't care because the rest of the plot was so bland. Also, women deserve better than the be depicted the way women are depicted in this book.
Sarah Lang
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Twilight Zone and Lynch vibes.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Accidentally read this in a few hours and I loved it.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
It got me in at the start but I'm at a loss to make sense of the story.Well written though!
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 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
George Gale
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Facades is a unique, beautiful, and intelligent book that tells a futuristic dystopian tale with dark humor, mystery, and richly allusive and socially critical magic realism. But make no mistake, this is not the magic realism of the lush jungles of Latin America, but rather, the gritty magic realism of urban deterioration in the nightmarish city of Trude, once a city of elegant grandeur, now a landscape of boarded up mansions whose last famous remnants are an asylum and an opera house. In it ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Eric Lundgren grew up in Minneapolis and received his MFA from the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. His writing has appeared in Tin House, Boulevard, F(r)iction, and Quarterly West. His first novel, The Facades, was named a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and a Best Book of 2013 by Publishers Weekly and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He lives in ...more
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