Summary and book reviews of Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin

Journal of a UFO Investigator

A Novel

By David Halperin

Journal of a UFO Investigator
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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Book Summary

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 insect-like 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.

Excerpt
Journal of a UFO Investigator

The UFO fell from the sky on the night of December 20, 1962, the week of my thirteenth birthday. The event itself, after more than three years, I recall with perfect clarity. Many of its circumstances, however, have blurred in my mind.

I can’t remember, for instance, where I’d been that evening. I was certainly coming home from somewhere, maybe a meeting of some sort. I see myself standing before the house on the front lawn, just a little off the sidewalk, ready to go inside yet looking steadily into the sky. It was very cold, and it must have been late, certainly after 10:00 p.m. Orion was high in the southern sky over the house, Sirius not far below and to the east. All the stars were extraordinarily clear, their colors very marked. I could make out the red of Betelgeuse, the ice-blue, diamond-blue glitter of Sirius. There was no moon.

The object appeared in the east. I don’t know what called my attention to it. I was not ...

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INTRODUCTION
Danny Shapiro is a sixteen-year-old living in 1960s Pennsylvania with a seriously ill mother and an embittered father. Alienated at home, he's just as isolated at school. His onetime pal Jeff has moved on to other friends and other interests; his onetime crush, Rosa, has vanished from his life. His main satisfaction is investigating UFO activity, which he's been tracking in a secret journal.

Danny has had his own run-in with a flying saucer at age thirteen—or so his journal claims. As he details this event, he slips into a fantasy world in which an apparently chance meeting in the Philadelphia Library connects him to a band of fellow teen investigators who go by the name of SSS, "The Super-Science Society." Soon his new ...
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Reviews

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I might have laughed if someone had told me that it was possible to write an enthralling and deeply sad meditation on adolescence and Judaism in the guise of a novel that includes futuristic spacecraft, bug-eyed aliens, and conspiracy theories, but Journal of a UFO Investigator is that book. As the lone Jewish boy at his school, Danny subsequently embarks on an interior journey where he meets a trio of likeminded co-conspirators, and our hero undergoes a remarkable transformation that not only prepares him for the challenges he faces as an earthbound teenager but also for the roles that he will eventually play as a man: lover, father, scholar, and chronicler of family history.   (Reviewed by Marnie Colton).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

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.

Booklist

A thrilling romp through the domain of aliens and spacecraft, Halperin’s highly entertaining ... tale poses questions about the real and the imagined and suggests that fusing the two might be the only way to survive adolescence.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Author Blurb Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish
What's in this book? What isn't? History, mystery-even aliens, for God's sake. The most compelling and original coming-of-age story I've read in a long time.

Author Blurb Joanne Greenberg, author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
A wild ride-phantasmagoric, paranoiac, full of lust and insecurity, misplaced affection, and fear of closeness-exactly the mind of the teenage boy David Halperin is writing about.

Author Blurb Iain Pears, New York Times bestselling author
Journal of a UFO Investigator is a remarkable book. Part science fiction, part novel of growing up, part surrealist voyage into the imagination, it is a disconcerting and satisfying experience.

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Paranormal Propagandist: Gray Barker

West Virginia, the small American state best known for its "Wild & Wonderful" motto, ravaged coal mines, and rich Appalachian history, might seem an unlikely birthplace for UFO phenomenology; after all, most people associate aliens and flying saucers with Roswell, New Mexico's otherworldly desert landscape. Without the pioneering West Virginian pulp writer, huckster, and alien enthusiast Gray Barker, however, the seeds of the famous "Roswell Incident" might never have borne fruit. And as the 2009 documentary Shades of Gray - a warm and wistful look at Barker's life - shows, that would have been a shame for American pop culture.

Barker got his start as the voice of the paranoiac fringe of ufology (the study of unidentified flying ...

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