Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crossing UFOs and Sacred Texts in a Whodunit

UFOs and Sacred Texts, Ezekiel

By Jonathan Kirsch

     Starting with its beguiling title, “Journal of a UFO Investigator” by David Halperin 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.

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