Fractured family dynamics and the search for a missing fortune are the main threads of this textured debut, set mostly in Cleveland, Ohio, over the course of three decades.
The Comedown centers on the families of two men: Leland Bloom-Mittwoch and his drug dealer, Reggie Marshall. Reggie sees Leland as an unstable client; Leland, however, considers Reggie his best friend. Leland is present the day Reggie is shot, and he flees the scene, distraught, with a briefcase full of money. Over the ensuing years, Leland struggles with addiction and mental illness, wrecks his first marriage, enters into a second and has a damaging affair, while Reggie’s wife, who was once a promising student, is left to raise their two boys in poverty, alone. Through several tantalizing plot twists, the lives of the Bloom-Mittwoch and Marshall clans remain intertwined in a network of simmering tension, blame and guilt.
First-time author Rebekah Frumkin, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is generous with her characters and their frailties. Each point of view (and there are many) feels distinct; often, the same events are shown through the eyes of different characters, adding dimension. Although some readers might find it disorienting to be launched into another point of view just when they’ve settled into the current one, the novel’s nonlinear, fragmented structure reflects its themes of disconnection and the uneasy mental states of most of the characters.
Messy, meandering and occasionally illuminating, The Comedown is a family saga that recalls real life.