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The Perfume Burned His Eyes


A teenager develops an unlikely friendship with Lou Reed in 1970s NYC, in a standout debut from TV/film star Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, etc.).

Forthcoming: 4/3/18

$25.95 $19.46 Not Currently Available – Check Back Soon!

What people are saying…

“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


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.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Published: 4/3/18
  • IBSN: 9781617756207
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756429


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 The Last Full Measure alongside Peter Fonda and William Hurt, and ABC’s Alex, Inc. The Perfume Burned His Eyes is his debut novel.

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