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The Perfume Burned His Eyes Hardcover – April 3, 2018

4.7 out of 5 stars 88 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I seldom finish a book and then pick up a pen to write my name in it because I know I will lend it out often. I did that with this book of fiction about a teenage boy in the '70's who has a friendship with Lou Reed. This is the kind of hidden gem booksellers like to discover."
--SubText Bookstores, Best Book of 2018 Staff Pick

"Imperioli makes his literary debut with The Perfume Burned His Eyes, a novel in which 16-year-old narrator Matthew becomes enmeshed with the late rock legend Lou Reed and his trans muse Rachel."
--Bay Area Reporter

Included in the Authors Round the South "Spring 2018 Read This! Next List"

"I found myself totally entranced by The Perfume Burned His Eyes, the coming of age story of 17-year-old Matthew, who recently moved from Queens to a Manhattan apartment, where his upstairs neighbors turn out to be...music legend Lou Reed and his transgender partner Rachel! Lou Reed looms large in the novel, but it is mostly about Matthew's own journey through adolescence. There is a sweetness and vulnerability to Matthew's first-person narrative, which felt very authentic to me, filled with grit and heartbreak, confusion and angst, as Matthew navigates his strange, new world, not only of NYC, but of adulthood itself. Fresh and original; listen to some Lou Reed music, read, and enjoy (and it's my favorite book jacket of the year!). ED LOVED AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDS!"
--Unabridged Bookstore Newsletter, Ed Devereux pick

"Imperioli does a masterful job with this work, and with his influences from the acting world, it reads vividly, like a movie."
--Brooklyn Fans

"Yes. It's That Guy From The Sopranos. If that's what makes you pick it up, fine. Just do it. Matthew, a 16 year old living in Queens loses both his father and his grandfather. His mother uproots the now family of two to Manhattan. He starts an unlikely friendship with two tenants in his building: Lou Reed and his trans girlfriend Rachel. Lou becomes a quasi-shamanic father figure to the boy as he navigates his lonely path to becoming a man. Heartbreaking. Pure. If you walk away from having read this book without feeling the deepest of empathy for teenagers and your own teenage self, you're just a stone, man. You can't be reached."
--Fountain Bookstore, staff pick

"Part nod to the fractiousness of the teenage years, part nod to a talented and complicated musician for whom the author had great admiration, The Perfume Burned His Eyes is a short but powerful read that imprints Imperioli as a master of this genre."
--Books Is Wonderful

"A fast-paced story with likable characters."
--Wanna Be Omnilegent

"[Imperioli] captured the setting, the times, and the coming of age beautifully. It was a compelling read."
--The Cyberlibrarian

"Vividly imagined, compelling, and sympathetic, The Perfume Burned His Eyes convinces with the force of its emotional intensity."
--Joyce Carol Oates

"It has been a long time since I have regarded the prospect of taking up a new first novel other than with dull dread and a sardonic snort of rightfully prejudicial dismissal. Then I happened on this one: the kind of bird you don't see anymore in the kind of sky you don't see anymore. Mr. Imperioli can write, and he has given us a book--that most outmoded of handheld devices, devoid of all apps--that brings a rare and welcome breeze of imagination and wit."
--Nick Tosches, author of Under Tiberius

"This coming-of-age narrative is a fearless, towering inferno burning with raw truthfulness, stunning surprises, thrills, poetic writing, and an odyssey not just to be read, but reckoned with."
--Richard Lewis, comedian, author of The Other Great Depression

"Michael Imperioli discovers a whole new demimonde in his journey from Queens to the hideaways and hell-a-ways of Manhattan. It's a streetwise romp through an underworld of bizarre characters desperate to find their own transcendence, written with affection, wit, and telepathic understanding."
--Lenny Kaye, musician and author

"Touching, hilarious, heartfelt, and poetic, with an ending that is crushing, bruising, beautiful...Unpredictable and sweet as well, this is a unique accomplishment."
--Lydia Lunch, author of Will Work for Drugs

"The Perfume Burned His Eyes shook me up in a way a book hasn't since my twenties. I found myself questioning the narrative I have built for myself in order to survive as an artist and a parent. It threw me back to being an awkward teenager in love, and destroyed some of the scaffolding of false memories I had built. This book allowed me to be with myself as a young, innocent teen without judgment, and opened my eyes and heart to the hurdles my teenager is now about to face. Mike's book is gentle, pure, perverse, and devastating. It delves intimately into the psyche of what all great artists are made of."
--Nick Sandow, actor (Orange Is the New Black), filmmaker

About the Author

Michael Imperioli is best known for his starring role as Christopher Moltisanti in the acclaimed TV series The Sopranos, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Emmy Award. He also wrote five episodes of the show and was co-screenwriter of the film Summer of Sam, directed by Spike Lee. Imperioli has appeared in six of Lee's films and has also acted in films by Martin Scorsese, Abel Ferrara, Walter Hill, Peter Jackson, and the Hughes Brothers. Upcoming projects include Bruno de Almeida's Cabaret Maxime, The Last Full Measure alongside Peter Fonda, Christopher Plummer, and William Hurt, and ABC’s Alex, Inc.