By Eric Lundgren
Overlook September 2013
From the library
Sven Norberg is stymied when his opera singer wife disappears without a trace. He wanders the streets of their Midwestern town looking for clues that will lead him to his wife. As he struggles to keep some sort of connection with his teenage son, he reaches out to Molly's voice teacher, a music critic who may be leaving him clues, and a policeman who has mysterious insight into the case. The Facades is a mystery and a perceptive look at the disconnect in families and communities.
This is a book that can be read on so many different levels. On the most basic, it is the story of Sven not knowing how, when, or why his relationships have fallen apart. His wife is just gone one day and he has no idea what happened to her or what has been going on in her life. It isn't until his wife vanishes that he seems to give any attention to his son Kyle. His effort are too little too late as he realizes that Molly was the only glue holding the family together.
On a broader note, The Facades examines the difference between our perception and the reality of the places where we live. The city of Trude was once recognized as a pinnacle of culture, but it is now on the decline. While opera still thrives, particularly with the talent of Molly Norberg, the library has shut down and most social interaction seems to take place around the local mall. The dissonance between the architectural masterpieces and abandoned buildings covered with graffiti parallels the lives of its inhabitants as they excel in their tiny fishbowls while wishing to break out into the larger world.
The world of Trude is close to the one you live in, but the differences are telling. Things feel just a bit off, as if you are in a dream instead of reading a book. The quick clues and allusions are reminiscent of Paul Auster, but with a liberal dash of humor. (Keep an eye out for red herrings....) This slight book is quirky and unexpected - in Trude, as in life, nothing is as simple as it appears.