Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: "The Facades" by Eric Lundgren

The Facades, the debut novel of Eric Lundgren, is a curiosity that never really surpasses its initial weirdness; it’s an experiment with lots of flare and pyrotechnics, but doesn’t produce any worthwhile results. I give Lundgren a lot of credit though for trying to do something different, even if, to me at least, he doesn’t fully succeed. Never was his motive shrouded in oddities or pushed at the reader, making them uncomfortable. It tells the story of a man of sincerity and desire lost in a world filled with mystery and deceit very well, blending the genres of the existential crime novels and of the metaphysical labyrinth pretty well even when the result isn’t very interesting, coming off like a less skilled version of Rivka Galchen’s debut, Atmospheric Disturbances. What Lundgren fails to do is provide a buffer between the weirdness of his fictional city and its inhabitants, and sometimes, the events in this book can’t help but come off as silly. The town Lundgren creates Trude, a city in Midwest whose glory days are behind it as it has now become kind of a suicide destination. The man who is at the center of the novel is Sven Norberg, an honest, if boring man who is reeling from his wife, Molly’s disappearance. Molly was an opera singer and the pride of this weird little town. In his mission to find out what happened to her, he must contend with his increasingly volatile son Kyle and a cast of magical realist characters who will stop at nothing to keep him from knowing the truth. A lot of these kinds of events happen out of nowhere, and don’t seem to serve a purpose other than being wholly weird. I liked some of the references, like a street named after Knut Hamsun and a Chinese restaurant named after Li Po, but it is all stuff I have seen before. Although I am curious to see what Lundgren writes next, I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I was.
Rating: 3/5

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