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(Fwd) [NRM_Scholars] eREVIEWS: "Journal of a UFO Investigator"

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  • Steve Hayes
    Forwarded from another forum -- has anyone here read this book? Sounds interesting. ... To: From:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2011
      Forwarded from another forum -- has anyone here read this book? Sounds

      ------- Forwarded message follows -------
      To: <NRM_Scholars@yahoogroups.com>
      From: "Caroline Tully" <heliade@...>
      Date sent: Sat, 29 Jan 2011 12:00:10 +1100
      Subject: [NRM_Scholars] eREVIEWS: "Journal of a UFO Investigator"
      Send reply to: NRM_Scholars@yahoogroups.com

      [ Double-click this line for list subscription options ]

      It's hard to know where to [re]send this intriguing email, this seems a
      suitable list. ~Caroline.

      Subject: [agade] eREVIEWS: "Journal of a UFO Investigator"

      _texts_in_a_whodunit_20110127/>: [eVideo Trailer at

      Crossing UFOs and sacred texts in a whodunit
      January 27, 2011
      By Jonathan Kirsch

      Journal of a UFO Investigator: A Novel
      David Halperin
      Hardcover: 304 pages
      Publisher: Viking Adult (February 3, 2011)
      ISBN-10: 0670022454
      ISBN-13: 978-0670022458
      $14.11 at

      Starting with its beguiling title, "Journal of a UFO Investigator" by
      David Halperin (Viking, $25.95) is an enchantment from beginning to
      end, a coming-of-age story that is also a kind of whodunit and, above
      all, an eerie adventure tale set in the subculture of flying saucers
      and space creatures.

      Most intriguing of all, however, is the fact the David Halperin brings
      to his first novel everything he has learned about myth and legend
      over a long career as a professor of religious studies at the
      University of North Carolina. Halperin, for example, has written
      extensively about the visions of Ezekiel, whose description of fiery
      wheels has long been interpreted as an account of an early visitation
      by a spaceship.

      The story that Halperin tells opens on the day in 1966 when
      13-year-old Danny Shapiro reports a sighting to his friends and fellow
      adolescent "UFO investigators." The search for a plausible explanation
      draws young Danny into a mysterious text, an even more mysterious
      death, and then into what appears to be a deadly pursuit across time
      and space. "Riddles chased mysteries, were chased by enigmas, around
      and around my brain," is how young Danny explains it all to himself.

      Ultimately, Danny finds himself transported to an otherworldly place-
      or is it? "I felt weirdly light, as if I were going to sail off into
      space at any time," he observes. "Colored shapes streamed through the
      black sky above us. A flotilla of glowing objects, like the one that
      stopped over my house and hurled itself down upon me." But then the
      author offers the hint of a more worldly explanation: "Like the gas
      station signs, the evening before my mother's heart attack, when my
      father drove us home from a picnic in the country and I lay with my
      feet in his lap and my head in hers, and I watched the blazing disk of
      Gulf and the red star of Texaco and the winged, bloodred horse of
      Mobilgas stream through the sky window. I was safe then and happy. For
      the last time."

      So the world of "UFOlogists" and sci-fi fans turns out to have
      something in common with the workings of the human imagination that
      also produced the sacred texts, or so we may conclude from "Journal of
      a UFO Investigator." Indeed, Halperin eventually puts his characters
      into the modern Middle East, where the mythical "Men in Black" are
      taken to be Zionists rather than agents of some intergalactic
      conspiracy, and where a flash of light in the night sky turns out to
      be exploding land mine. "[W]e pick our demons," observes Danny, now
      older and wiser, "and build our worlds around them."

      Halperin never fully explains the strange fate that befalls Danny
      Shapiro. He invites us to believe that Danny has traveled through
      time and space on a mind-boggling journey, but he also permits us to
      conclude that we are witnessing nothing more than the overheated
      imagination of a tormented adolescent. "I used to think, if I
      researched them, investigated the sightings, learned the physics of
      how they fly, I might be transported with them into the skies," writes
      Danny in his last word on UFOs. "Last summer I was transported. I
      flew, I really did, to Israel and back. But then I crashed. I'm still
      digging myself out of that wreckage."

      At one point in the novel, Danny is using a microfilm reader at the
      local library to investigate previous sightings, and he holds his hand
      above the flickering screen. "My hand then took on a ghostly
      appearance, not invisible exactly but transparent, as though my bone
      and flesh had become unreal," he recalls. "The only things real were
      the letters and words of the long-forgotten stories, shining upon my

      At that ethereal moment, the author offers us a glimpse into the world
      of magic that he has conjured up with such power and mastery. David
      Halperin spent his academic career in the study of ancient religious
      texts, and now that he has he turned to writing fiction, he is still
      in the thrall of words on the page. Thanks to "Journal of a UFO
      Investigator," his readers will be, too.

      Jonathan kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is the book editor of
      The Jewish Journal. He blogs on books at
      jewishjournal.com/twelve_twelve and can be reached at

      [David J. Halperin is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the
      University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He studied at Cornell
      University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before receiving his
      PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977. He is the
      author of several nonfiction books on theology and mythology,
      including The Merkabah in Rabbinic Literature (1980), The Faces of the
      Chariot: Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel's Vision (1988), Seeking
      Ezekiel: Text and Psychology (1993), Abraham Miguel Cardozo: Selected
      Writings (2001), and Sabbatai Zevi: Testimonies to a Fallen Messiah
      (2007). Journal of a UFO Investigator is his first novel.]


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      ------- End of forwarded message -------
      Steve Hayes
      E-mail: shayes@...
      Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
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