Declan Toohey’s debut novel Perpetual Comedown is an energetic tale about Darren Walton, a doctoral student at Trinity College. Toohey’s explosive prose transports the reader into Darren’s complex, hallucinatory world. The opening chapters construct a foundation for the quirky plot by introducing Camland, Darren’s imaginary ‘dreamscape’ which he often visits throughout the book, serving as a ‘refuge of sorts.’
This whimsical protagonist narrates his time spent as an undergraduate in Maynooth, and he shares anecdotes about scuttling through earlier college life in a vivacious manner. While following Darren’s youthful antics, there is a shift in the narrative as he encounters conflict with those closest to him: his parents and friends. Consequently, Darren proceeds to recount his time spent in Nova Scotia as he drastically attempts to disconnect from home and ‘leave behind his former self.’
In the final chapters of the book, Darren experiences intense anguish due to the loss of loved ones; a pain too harrowing to acknowledge whereby denial presents itself as a potential coping mechanism. Darren’s psychological state becomes increasingly apparent, which prompts one to feel sympathy for him due to the torment he endures. Until the end, we unravel Darren’s thought process through his internal monologue, which reveals a profound, moving insight into mental illness. Furthermore, Declan Toohey takes you by the hand and pulls you into the wild and intensely imaginative world of Darren Walton.
Words: Aisling Arundel