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The House of Impossible Beauties threw me into a world I knew close to nothing about. The Harlem Ball scene of the 80s and 90s was a culture born of intense, largely unrecognized struggle, and Joseph Cassara’s fictional ode to the time is likewise chock full of character. Pure, undiluted, super-concentrated character. This book is brutal. It is unflinching, and it is as real as it gets.
Like have you ever seen Requiem for a Dream? It’s on the same page of, “Wow, I can’t believe anyone could endure this,” type emotional shock. But where that movie follows a drug addict's bleak downward spiral, Cassara’s characters never fail to demonstrate a life-affirming and indomitable strength that is, simply put, beautiful.
Joseph Cassara clearly vetted narrator Christian Barillas super closely, as this is a book that demands fluidity between languages, genders, and class all at once—I think it would have been an impossible task for nearly anyone else, but Barillas nails it.
**This book is graphic**
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
The performance was spot on, and a lot of the book was very entertaining and an interesting look into a lifestyle I am certainly aware of, but know little about. Very poignant. The book was just overly long. There are long sections of the book of interactions and conversations that go nowhere, do nothing to add to the storyline.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful