Screenwriter and Emmy-winning actor Michael Imperioli has just published his first novel, The Perfume Burned His Eyes. The story follows a 17-year old who has been compared to Holden Caulfield, minus the cynicism. The most appealing aspect of the book is arguably the author’s fascination with rock icon, Lou Reed.
In the story, protagonist Matthew is a teenager who doesn’t know his father. His mother decides they should move from the Queens apartment to Manhattan, circa 1976. There, he meets a fictionalized version of Lou Reed, who later becomes somewhat of a mentor and somewhat of a father-figure.
The book has received praise from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and even author Joyce Carol Oates. The author described the debut novel as “Vividly imagined, compelling, and sympathetic… The Perfume Burned His Eyes convinced with the force of its emotional intensity.”
Most fans will recognize Michael Imperioli from his days on The Sopranos, but his ever-extending IMDB resume also includes Goodfellas, Summer of Sam, and The Lovely Bones. In addition, some of his more recent television appearances include shows like Blue Bloods, Lucifer, and the new comedy, Alex Inc, opposite Zach Braff.
In this exclusive interview with Creative Principles, Michael Imperioli talks about his evolution as a writer, the difference in prose and screenplays, some of his favorite authors, and of course, his fascination with rock legend, Lou Reed.
Michael Imperioli Talks New Book And Lou Reed
What led you to write this debut novel, The Perfume Burned His Eyes?
I’ve always been drawn to coming-of-age stories and I played around with the idea. I wrote a pilot a while back about a kid from Pennsylvania who moved to New York in the early 1970s.
The pilot never got made, but this character was already in my mind. One of my boys was around 16 and he was going through the usual 16—and all that brings with it—so I revisited the idea.
I thought it was a good time to try to relate to the mind of a boy that age. I began writing this story and around then, Lou Reed passed away. And, I had gotten to know him in the last decade or so of his life. His death hit me in some very impactful ways and somehow he wound up being part of the story.