Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is David Halperin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: David Halperin, author of Journal of a UFO Investigator, his first novel.

His entry begins:
For the first time in some years, my current reading consists of newly published books in which UFOs are a main topic. The quality is vastly higher than I remember it as being in my “UFO investigator” days fifty years ago.

The gorgeously illustrated Hidden Realms, Lost Civilizations, and Beings from Other Worlds (Detroit: Visible Ink, 2010), by veteran UFOlogist Jerome Clark, puts UFOs into the broader spectrum of what Clark calls “anomalous” phenomena. These Clark divides into “experience anomalies” and “event anomalies,” the latter being those that seem to belong to consensus reality. (Like, in Clark’s opinion, a small core of inexplicable UFO sightings.) The former category, which Clark plainly finds the more intriguing—as do I—are things that can’t possibly exist in the usual sense of the word, and yet appear to be something more than products of witnesses’ imaginations. Genuine experiences, that is, of things that can’t genuinely be.

Take the “Great Airship Mystery” of 1896-97. This term refers to the numerous, seemingly reliable sightings, from many parts of the US, of a winged flying machine that can’t have existed. Yet it was on multiple occasions seen to land, its pilots encountered and conversed with. No small gray beings from distant galaxies, they. Rather, they appear in the reports as American inventors, on at least one occasion from New York State, often with an odd tendency to be named “Wilson.” The stories...[read on]
Among the early praise for Journal of a UFO Investigator:
“Halperin’s gripping debut is less about aliens than alienation. … This heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a boy losing and finding his way in this and other worlds will resonate with many readers.”
Publishers Weekly

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

“[A]mbitious and wildly creative … a fascinating alchemy of fantasy, autobiography and the power of imagination.”
–Glenn McDonald, Raleigh News & Observer

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.”
–Iain Pears, author of An Instance of the Fingerpost

“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.”
–Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish
Back in the 1960s, David Halperin was a teen-age UFO investigator. He later became a professor of religious studies—his specialty, religious traditions of heavenly ascent.

Learn more about Journal of a UFO Investigator at Halperin's website and blog (“my thoughts on UFOs, religion, the writer’s life, and other subjects dear to my heart”).

Watch a video trailer for Journal of a UFO Investigator.

The Page 69 Test: Journal of a UFO Investigator.

Writers Read: David Halperin.

--Marshal Zeringue