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Riveted by their stories, you are so struck by the Xtravaganzas’ strength and determination, by their vibrant spirits and humor, by their creativity, by their sensitivity to beauty and their capacity to give and receive love, that you are lulled into believing that, somehow, things will get better; the house will survive. Which makes watching one after the other succumb — to AIDS, drug addiction or acts of violence — all the more shattering.
The House of Impossible Beauties tells of a search not only for respect but, above all, love in a time and place that seeks to starve its characters of both.
A work of unrestrained passion, a novel both unabashedly queer — flamboyant and proud, built out of chosen families, pulsating with club vibes whilst clouded in the haze of trauma — and unmistakably Latin.... This is a definitive LGBTQ family story, of the sweep and intimacy that’s typical in family sagas while also steeped in the trauma and sass specific to its milieu.
Vivid and engaging... The novel feels like an anthropological plunge into another era, enhanced by rhythmic, urban prose littered with slang and Spanglish.
A heartbreaking novel that burns brightly.
It’s at turns exciting, tragic, passionate, and tender.
One of the year’s most anticipated books.
This debut novel will absolutely blow you away.
Infused with glitz as well as heart, the story explores life as racial and sexual minorities—the pains and the triumphs, the grit and the thrills—in a way that feels personal, even for those who never walked the ballroom scene.
Simultaneously tender and tragic, Cassara chronicles the House’s inception, its role in cultivating family for outcasts in the community, and spotlights the wholly original personalities that brought it to life.
Glamorous, gritty, and glittering...
A future queer classic.
Fabulous…a grand, beautiful tale of art, love and the human spirit.
This incredible debut novel is a gorgeous ode to the LGBT youths of the Harlem ball scene... It’s a gritty, emotional book, both tender and witty, that depicts addiction, abuse, and sex work with honesty and care.
...in Joseph Cassara’s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one’s home in the world—particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society—comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.
Joseph Cassara’s passionate debut delves into the queer Harlem ball scene of ’80s and ’90s New York. There are plenty of swirling elements here, true to the milieu — addiction, AIDS, violence — but Cassara’s touch is empathetic and vibrant.
This fierce, devastating, wildly gorgeous debut takes...takes readers there with enviable skill; it’s impossible not to be transported, to feel the hum of the music in your cells, to vibrate with the energy of the time and place.
Exceptional...The writing is erotically luscious, lyrically intense, forthrightly in your face, and pitch-perfect in the dialog, and the suspense comes from wondering what’s going to happen to these people...A grittily gorgeous work for readers who don’t go for cozies.
Cassara has done a superb job of reimagining a world that will be foreign and even exotic to many readers, while creating fully developed characters to populate it. The tone is singularly apposite....A compassionate story, which is altogether moving and unforgettable.
[An] exceptional debut...The book’s social truth is unsettling, its dialog deft, its characterization affecting, and its language both gritty and luscious.
Fierce, tender, and heartbreaking.
Some debut novels are much anticipated... Others seem to come out of nowhere. Who knew Joseph Cassara’s The House of Impossible Beauties would be that good?... Either way, debut novels are always a surprise, and therein lies their power.