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The Book of the Unknown, Tales of the Thirty-Six

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By the time I had finished reading the forward by the author, Jay Katz, Ph.D., well, okay, Keats, but Keats as Katz, I was hooked. This is storytelling at its best as parable, mystery, romance and mysticism. Keats captures the reader and pulls her into his world of belief in a time when one person could make a difference.

Professor Katz, while still a graduate student, comes upon documents unearthed and rescued from a lost synagogue in a small town in Germany. According to Kabbalah tradition, the Hebrew letters Lamedh-Vov stand for thirty-six righteous people whose existence has been likened to pillars, without which the world would collapse. The strength of these “pillars” is their anonymity. They may individually be replaced for any number of reasons, but the revelation of all thirty-six names would result in the end of the world.

The professor believes the documents he has found will lead him to identify the thirty-six. So far he has only been able to track down and tell the stories of twelve of the thirty-six. But what stories they are! Whether we’re learning of the appointed Grim Reaper or cheering for the fallen seraphim, we become the villagers and listeners, both the entertained and the redeemed. Keats writes in a language that begs to be read aloud and as much as we understand that the stories are of his imagination, we know they are born of a very ancient past.

In the Editor’s Afterward we learn that Professor Katz vanished shortly after turning in his manuscript. The questions that haunt us are these: Will Professor Katz find the other twenty-four villages and reveal the tales of the remaining Lamedh-Vov? Would Jonathon Keats dare?

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