Journal of a UFO Investigator: A Novel

Journal of a UFO Investigator: A Novel

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by David Halperin
     
 

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A sparkling debut novel set in the sixties about a boy's emotional and fantastical journey through alien worlds and family pain.

Against the backdrop of the troubled 1960s, this coming-of-age novel weaves together a compelling psychological drama and vivid outer-space fantasy. Danny Shapiro is an isolated teenager, living with a dying mother and aSee more details below

Overview

A sparkling debut novel set in the sixties about a boy's emotional and fantastical journey through alien worlds and family pain.

Against the backdrop of the troubled 1960s, this coming-of-age novel weaves together a compelling psychological drama and vivid outer-space fantasy. Danny Shapiro is an isolated teenager, living with a dying mother and a hostile father and without friends. To cope with these circumstances, Danny forges a reality of his own, which includes the sinister "Three Men in Black", mysterious lake creatures with insectlike carapaces, a beautiful young seductress and thief with whom Danny falls in love, and an alien/human love child who-if only Danny can keep her alive-will redeem the planet. Danny's fictional world blends so seamlessly with his day-to-day life that profound questions about what is real and what is not, what is possible and what is imagined begin to arise. As the hero in his alien landscape, he finds the strength to deal with his own life and to stand up to demons both real and imagined. Told with heart and intellect, Journal of a UFO Investigator will remind readers of the works of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the mid-1960s, religious studies professor Halperin's gripping debut is less about aliens than alienation. Danny Shapiro, a 16-year-old UFO geek living in Philadelphia, grows estranged from his normal school friends. His dark fantasies lead him to hook up with a crew of teen UFO investigators who are as hardcore as they are precocious. As his seriously ill mother grows worse, Danny encounters the legendary Men in Black, flies a disk, gets lost in the middle of the earth and on the moon as well as strapped down on an alien operating table. A Jewish kid who doesn't believe in God, he studies the Bible and explores his religious heritage. Strange twists abound as Danny becomes the caretaker of a half-alien female child and gets ensnared in regional hostilities in Israel. While the science fiction talk may put off some, this heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a boy losing and finding his way in this and other worlds will resonate with many readers. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Danny Shapiro is a lonely teen, wishing for the power to save his dying mother. His interest in UFOs allows him to escape his bleak reality and leads him into a fantasyland of adventure and passion. When he is not supposedly flying a spaceship, he is escaping from the "three men in black" and pursuing conspiracy theories that may or may not be real. His mother's death pulls Danny back into life on Earth, where he learns to confront his own reality and to live with it. In his first novel, Halperin carefully walks the fine line between reality and fantasy in the teenage mind as Danny comes of age. The use of religious symbolism heightens the author's concerns. VERDICT Posing existential questions throughout, this book will appeal to readers of sf as well as general fiction readers.—Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Kingston
Kirkus Reviews

An adolescent boy copes with his religious heritage and personal demons through a staggeringly lush fantasy life.

Myth, religion, conspiracy and whimsy converge, clash and ultimately bewilder in this debut novel by Professor Emeritus Halperin (Religious Studies/Univ. of North Carolina). The narrative parallels the coming-of-age of a young Jewish man named Danny Shapiro, the openly unreliable narrator of this extended science fiction saga, tracking his journey from the end of 1963 to 1967. Launching into his story, Danny identifies himself as a student of all things alien: "I've read articles about automatic writing, ouija boards, communication through our souls from the beyond," he declares. "They're written by crackpots. I'm a scientific UFOlogist. If we're to solve the mystery of the disks, as we surely will, if only we keep working at it, ignore the idiots who ridicule us, it will be through scientific research and analysis. Nothing else." Danny has plenty of his own trials with which to cope. His mother is dying, slowly and horribly. His father torments the incessantly sensitive son. In his heart of hearts, Danny harbors an unrequited affection for his blossoming friend Rosa Pagliano, worsened by his rivalry with best friend Jeff Stollard. It all might have turned out as a nuanced and nostalgic rumination on the turmoil of the'60s via a paranoid culture—see William Peter Blatty's Crazy for a good comparison piece. Instead, Halperin throws in everything but the kitchen sink, unleashing an underground culture of conspiracy theorists, sexual discovery, the proverbial Men in Black and the Roswell crash, all in a heady, if baffling, tightrope between reality and existential revelation. By the time readers have been to the moon and back, flown to Jerusalem at Danny's side and bumped into Danny's human/alien hybrid love child, they'll either be along for the ride or they won't.

Whether it's a nervous breakdown with flying saucers or a Burroughs-like odyssey through religious allegory, this novel never coalesces into a convincing story.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101475652
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/03/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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