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The Facades

by Eric Lundgren
Overlook Duckworth, 272 pp., $25.95

Sven Norberg, the narrator of The Facades, St. Louis citizen Eric Lundgren's first novel, is one sullen fellow. So sullen, in fact, that, for about three-quarters of the book's pages, it's pretty much all you know about him. Said sullenness comes with good reason: His wife, Molly, a decorated opera singer in the estranged couple's fictional town of Trude, disappeared unexpectedly before the novel's commencement. Dude has no idea where she went. Therapeutically, he roams Trude's streets, describing – in fantastic detail – each nook and cranny to the point that the town, a struggling Midwestern municipal seemingly plucked from eastern Europe's 20th century, assumes more personality than any character save for Norberg's dejected kid, Kyle. This all holds true until the story's spoil unwinds, something that happens so anticlimactically and late in the game you barely notice Lundgren's pulled the sheet out.

Perfect for: late-blooming history nuts, aspring urban planners, operatic fanatics

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