Hypnerotomachia Poliphili--what's that you say? This book was the first I've read in years that I could not put down. And it was a book about a book! But more than that...it was about four young college men at Princeton in 1999, who were finishing their Senior Thesis Projects, while carrying out the dreams of their fathers, and mentors. It is a coming of age story, but these boys are smart, and the subjects they choose are much deeper than most college students of today are delving into during their undergraduate studies. Yet they are playful as most young men are, and anyone who has attended college, or is raising children, gains some nostalgia, and excitement from following the antics of these young ones.
The mystique of the Hypernerotomachia is that it is a book that is actually written in code, and the code changes many times making it almost impossible to break. Emotions reach a fevered pitch over and over again when the narrator of the story, Tom, has flashbacks to his childhood, where his father, now dead, researched this same book...and now his new best friend, Paul is doing the same and pulling him in. The push-pull effect of wanting to help, but knowing the strain it put on his parents' relationship, alters his own desires with his girlfriend Katie.
Traveling back in time to Renaissance Italy, and moving back and forth between that time and today's culture, brings the reader into a new interpretation of what's old is new, and what's new is old. I don't want to spoil the story for you, but I guarantee you, if you want mystery, history, a bit of a love story, and intrigue, pick up this book for your next weekend alone. You will not be able to put it down. The writers have made a complex problem simple, and have quietly pulled the reader into a parallel universe, that could be going on in your own community today.