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The Comedown

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  513 ratings  ·  127 reviews
A dazzling epic that follows two very different families in Cleveland across generations, beginning with their patriarchs, who become irrevocably intertwined one fateful night

A blistering dark comedy, The Comedown is a romp across America, from the Kent State shootings to protest marches in Chicago to the Florida Everglades, that explores delineating lines of race, class,
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Hannah The "it" refers to drugs, and it's an example of Sunny lying to Shondor to protect someone else from his anger. One of Shondor's dealers was letting j…moreThe "it" refers to drugs, and it's an example of Sunny lying to Shondor to protect someone else from his anger. One of Shondor's dealers was letting junkies use their drugs too close to where they were selling them, and Sunny knew that Shondor would probably kill the careless dealer for putting their operation at risk. So Sunny told Shondor that the junkies were actually using product that came from an Irish drug ring, not his own, so that Shondor wouldn't blame the dealer for the junkies' behavior. (less)

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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-have
The Comedown is a terrific literary work that takes the classic form of the great sweeping novels that span generations and wars and breathes fresh life into the genre. It's a story told much in the way stories are really told at the holiday table -in bits and pieces with different people remembering different things. It's the story of two families twisted together through a drug deal gone bad and extended versions of those families. Each chapter takes on a successive character and tells their s ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This rich novel is structured as linked stories, each featuring a member of one of two Cleveland families forever tied in a somewhat unholy bond. A horrendous drug deal gone wrong on May 8, 1973 is the fulcrum for all that follows, and drugs are at the center of everything, legal and non-. It also happens to be a birthday shared by the patriarchs Reggie Marshall and Leland Bloom Sr., and I was hooked from the prologue. The McGuffin here is a yellow briefcase that may or may not contain life chan ...more
Rachel León
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, read-in-2018
(4.5 stars, rounded up)

Oh, can Rebekah Frumkin write! I was mesmerized by her prose, which is just so spot on. In truth it was her writing that kept me turning pages more than the plot.

But the plot is definitely notable. A drug deal goes wrong and the addict and dealer's families become strangely intertwined for generations. I'm a sucker for family sagas and thought that's what this novel would be, but it's actually more than that. It's an epic novel (that's not too long) that explores race, re
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The intertwining of separate and disparate lives in Cleveland is beautifully written and Rebekah Frumkin's voice is clear and bold. Her depiction of mental illness, addiction and general human vice and virtue were spot on and powerfully written.

one of the things that has really stuck with me throughout the book is that we all see ourselves as a little less fucked up, a little more put together, and a little more generous and kind-hearted than we are perceived by others. Though, interestingly, t
Donna Davis
Thanks go to Net Galley and Henry Holt for the review copy. This debut tells me that Frumkin is an author to watch. This book is now available to the public.

The story begins with Leland, an addict with a suitcase, and Reggie, the dealer that hates him. There’s Melinda, the unhappy ex-wife, and a host of other characters, including Melinda’s daughter-in-law Jocelyn. The suitcase is the hook; everyone wants it, and so of course the reader must wonder what is in it and who has it now.

This novel gr
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Frumkin's novel consists of connected short stories which tell the story of a family impacted by the drug world. I love the idea of getting more info about specific events through the lens of different characters, but each chapter just left me plain confused. It was hard for me to remember which character was which and how they were all related (although I suppose this could be more my fault than the author's.) Aside from the confusion (there were constant time jumps too!), I was also turned off ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Put simply, Rebekah Frumkin is a brilliant writer. Her language is both complex and readable, her characters full of layers and eccentricities yet in some ways familiar. It’s difficult to say exactly what THE COMEDOWN is about, with its story lines that both weave into and diverge from each other, but in every chapter, you’ll find yourself equally pulled in, led down a path you had no idea you’d follow with such interest. It’s a truly unique work with characters who feel as vivid as any person y ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-18
I honestly hate writing bad reviews because I feel like I'm cruelly disrespecting the author's hard work. And there's no doubt a ton of heart and sweat went into The Comedown.

Frumkin has a strong style and good politics but The Comedown gets away from her, with its endless digressions and timey-wimey back and forth which just confuses what is actually a very simple plot. It's so overwrought, you can feel the ghost of past drafts - too many clever bits, no actual emotion. And god forbid there sh
Jaclyn Crupi
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Am I the only one who found it incredibly hard to keep all the characters straight in this intergenerational family saga? Even with the two family trees I was a bit all over the place. Shame because the writing was lovely and the premise clever.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Since the complicated storylines of this family saga novel are driven almost entirely by drug use and mental illness, it’s no surprise that it’s often unwieldy, scattered and confusing. It’s also brave, smart and ambitious, especially for a debut.
I give credit to the author for literary courage, for research and for her willingness to go deep into brain chemistry, philosophy, race and religion. This is kind of like 5 books in 1, even at 300 pages.
Ultimately though, it was too ambitious for my
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sweeping novel, told over decades, characters, and families, all encompassing one man (who dies at in the prologue.) It is bold, funny, and surprising.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve wavered on the notion of fate throughout the years. While I am a firm believer that everything does NOT happen for a reason, there have been times in which certain outcomes in my life – and several others within it – seemed predestined, kismet. Trying to explain these occasional phenomenons is superfluous, if not pointless; for me it was better to just relish in their providence.

It’s probably the case for others too. That is unless you’re part of the ensemble that makes up Rebekah Frumkin’
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-in-cleveland
Of the three books on my "set-in-cleveland" shelf, this is the first fictional one where the Cleveland setting matters. I'm always a fan of books set in places I know -- this resulted in great excitement when I lived in San Francisco and read at least 7 fictional books set there -- and that was enough for me to pick this up. While I'm not terribly familiar with all of the details of the neighborhoods mentioned, I at least knew enough to fill in the gaps and understand the sentiment. This book co ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
since goodreads won't allow 6 stars, i may have go back and lower most of the other books i've read this year by 1 star. this is a phenomenal book.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous novel exploring destiny, consequences, addiction, family, and mental illness to name a few of themes. It reminded me often of 'The Corrections.'
A sweeping family epic that covers a lot of ground without turning into a paperweight, Rebekah Frumkin's The Comedown is perfect for readers who enjoy dysfunctional family narratives.

The basic plot: a drug deal goes wrong, thus entangling the dealer's and the addict's families for generations. There's a mysterious yellow suitcase that everyone wants to get their hands on, issues of race and religion, and a whole lot of characters named Leland or Lee. There are a lot of characters, time frames, a
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
I grew up in a pretty straight-laced household. We were Catholics, which meant that I felt guilt about, well, anything that might be a sin (stole two dollars from my sister's piggy bank when we were ten, still feeling that guilt). I made it a personal mission of mine to achieve only the highest marks in school, wouldn't dream of being sent to the office, and generally avoided anything that resembled trouble (i.e. drugs, alcohol, careless teenage sex). So, you know, a book that is devoted to the ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy families are all alike and unhappy families are unhappy in their unique ways. Rebekah Frumkin paints a number of unhappy family portraits in The Comedown. It takes a generation to resolve the inciting incident between Reggie Marshall and Leland Bloom-Mittwoch Sr. involving a drug deal and a briefcase full of money.

The Comedown was a compelling read because the characters and settings are layered and rich. They are fully formed, flawed and quirky and some are rather u
Sharon May
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley, Henry Holt and Co., and Rebekah Frumkin for the opportunity to read and review this book.

At its heart, this is a story of two families - one black and one white - told by different members of those families and their friends in chapters ranging from the 1970s to 2009. These families are forever linked by one night of violence in Cleveland.

This is less a story of figuring out what happens in the end and more of looking at these two family trees and see how events shape them.
Amy Morgan
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. This definitely could have been a 5 star read however, the transition from character to character was way too confusing and it was way too hard to keep track of who was who. With a storyline reminiscent of The Nix and a narration style similar to Homegoing this story has a lot of potential. There just definitely needs to be cleaner transitions in between each character.
Lara Blackman
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All fans of THE CORRECTIONS + other family sagas need to read this book! Incredible story, beautifully written - one of the best novels I've read in a long time.
Bonnie Franks
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me. In a good way. In the beginning, I thought it was one type of book, but it ended up being another.

It is a book about family and friends, but in a way you won't expect. It has it all, from the grade school days to adult trials, and wow did they have some, and yet you want to follow and you want to know what comes next. I appreciated the telling from the aspect of various characters as it rounded out the action being addressed as well as filling in some questions.

Great wri
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An intricate journey through the lives of characters who won my heart, despite their oddities and questionable life decisions. Keeping track of the many characters (lovers, ex-lovers, sons, and a rabbi) was a bit challenging at first, but by the end, I felt I had earned the satisfaction of picking apart an enormous knot of human relationships. Looking forward to more of Frumkin's work!
Greg Zimmerman
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Incredibly talented writer. Can't wait to see what she does next.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible, intelligent, poignant, deeply thoughtful, deeply conscious, engaging, marvelous. Review up at tomorrow.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-reads
Interesting story and a good read.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Comedown is a story that unfolds when the lives of two different families become entangled after an unexpected, violent event takes place one night in 1973 in Cleveland. The choices made by one man have a profound effect on the future of both of these families.

There is a lot that I really loved about this book. It’s clear that Rebekah Frumkin is a very talented story teller. She was able to create an intricate plot with a large cast of characters and make it all work. It was well organized,
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
My thanks to Netgalley and to MacMillan USA Publishers for sharing this title with me pre-release.

Publication Date: 17 April 2018

Appealingly written from each characters' point of view, the story of two families and the unlikely manner in which their lives become and remain intertwined plays out through the generations. Set against a backdrop that spans several states and numerous social issues (race, religion and socioeconomic status), Reggie, a practical and hopeful black drug dealer, and Lela
Maureen Tumenas
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

I had read some good reviews of this novel and although I don't disagree that it is a rich story, woven together of bits and pieces... they never come together. Just when one piece of the story, of the character, the time began to become interesting and I could empathize, or hate the character- off we go to another character, setting, time and place.

Too many bits and pieces, not enough time spent on any and what happens... no resolution.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This writing was so sharp, and the story so intricate, I felt as if I was watching it on a screen rather than listening to the audiobook. The characters’ anxieties and motivations were so palpable that I had to hit pause several times to prevent myself from being overwhelmed by the story (this is a good thing and testimony to author’s skill). What a debut. I look forward to reading much more from this author!
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Rebekah Frumkin's fiction and essays have appeared in Granta, McSweeney's, and Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other places. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She was the 2014 recipient of the Richard E. Guthrie Memorial Fellowship.

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