The Perfume Burned His Eyes
"An edgy coming-of-age romp set in New York City."
--Parade magazine, Parade Picks
"Screenwriter and Emmy-winning actor Imperioli's first novel is the atmospheric coming-of-age story of 17-year-old Matthew, whose mother moves them from Queens to a posh apartment in Manhattan in 1976...Matt is not an atypical teenager--think Holden Caulfield without the cynicism--but, often afraid and awkward, he is a reactor, not an actor, until the end of the novel, which, without foreshadowing, comes as a harrowing surprise...Imperioli can definitely write, and he gets high marks for the verisimilitude and empathy that he evokes in this fine crossover novel."
--Booklist, Starred Review
"Imperioli's book follows a Queens teen named Matthew as his shattered family moves from Jackson Heights to Manhattan, where he finds an unlikely mentor in a drug-addled Lou Reed."
--New York Post
"A coming-of-age tale dashed with relatable angst and humor."
"A restless Queens teenager becomes the prot g of music legend Lou Reed in Imperioli's energetic debut novel...Matthew's first-person narrative is full of endearing vulnerability, immediacy, and authenticity. This is a sweet and nostalgic coming-of-age novel."
"Imperioli's lived-in details about the city help make the world feel realistic... The novel] is an immersive trip into its narrator's memories of a turbulent time. Some fictional trips into 1970s New York abound with nostalgia; this novel memorably opts for grit and heartbreak."
"Imperioli delivers a spot-on coming-of-age novel...A winner."
"Even though Lou] Reed looms large throughout--the novel even takes its title from Reed's 'Romeo Had Juliette, ' from his 1989 solo album New York--the book is much less about him and more about Matthew's own journey through adolescence in the seedier corners of 1970s New York."
"Compelling...Lou Reed appears as a major character; he's an unlikely father figure to the teenage protagonist, Matthew, who's trying to find himself in 1976 Manhattan. The iconoclastic--and at the time, troubled--rocker inspires Matthew artistically, even as he coaxes him to walk on the wild side."
"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, Spring fiction reading list
Included in the Authors Round the South "Spring 2018 Read This Next List"
Matthew is a sixteen-year-old living in Jackson Heights, Queens, in 1976. After he loses his two most important male role models, his father and grandfather, his mother uses her inheritance to uproot Matthew and herself to a posh apartment building in Manhattan. Although only three miles away from his boyhood home, "the city" is a completely new and strange world to Matthew.
Matthew soon befriends (and becomes a quasi-assistant to) Lou Reed, who lives with his transgender girlfriend Rachel in the same building. The drug-addled, artistic/shamanic musician eventually becomes an unorthodox father figure to Matthew, who finds himself head over heels for the mysterious Veronica, a wise-beyond-her-years girl he meets at his new school.
Written from the point of view of Matthew at age eighteen, two years after the story begins, the novel concludes with an epilogue in the year 2013, three days after Lou Reed's death, with Matthew in his fifties.