What's it about? According to Jonathan Fullmer, "Religion scholar Halperin’s rollicking first novel set amid the turbulent 1960s recounts the story of Danny Shapiro, an imaginative teenage loner and self-proclaimed UFO investigator from a small town near Philadelphia. While his ailing Jewish mother and bitter Baptist father struggle to get along, Danny’s got his own problems. He and his best friend love the same girl, and while Danny continues to believe in the unexplained, his friends have become increasingly skeptical. But when someone breaks into the Shapiro house and steals Danny’s book about his encounter with the Three Men in Black, his fantastical world becomes very real. His investigations lead him to a small group of paranormal researchers, including fanatical Julian and lovely but dangerous Rochelle, and an exciting world where everyone, whether his good friends or the airport security guards, become dubious. A thrilling romp through the domain of aliens and spacecraft, Halperin’s highly entertaining coming-of-age tale poses questions about the real and the imagined and suggests that fusing the two might be the only way to survive adolescence." From Amazon.
Stuart Schoffman begins his review:
“I sat swaying over the book, poring over its words. I could make out nearly all that the Gypsies had written if I stuck with it long enough. The meaning was something else again. But that’s the way of a scripture: it’s often not meant to be understood.” So writes Danny Shapiro, the narrator-protagonist of David Halperin’s startling first novel.
“Journal of a UFO Investigator” is intricate and subversive, a book not easily understood. On the manifest level — peshat, in the Jewish interpretative tradition — it is a touching and engrossing coming-of-age novel composed in a simple style, a voyage of discovery starring an unhappy teenager named Danny Shapiro who finds refuge in UFO research and flights of fantasy: sightings, abductions, conspiracies, the whole generic megillah. (His mantra is a line from “The Book of the Damned,” a classic American study of paranormal phenomena: “Science is a turtle that says that its own shell encloses all things.”) Danny’s mother is an invalid with a heart condition. His father seethes with quiet anger, often directed at Danny, his only child. The book is set in a Philadelphia suburb between 1963 and 1966 — the “distant days,” as the author reveals in his acknowledgments, “when I was myself a teenage UFO investigator.”