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

Jonathan Keats
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
In tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish lore, the hero is the neb­bish, the one who under­whelms you. Jonathon Keats presents a love­ly lit­tle book, in which the least like­ly men and women car­ry the day, and more than that, car­ry the world. 

As explained in the fic­tion­al author’s pref­ace,’ the Lamed-Vav are the thir­ty-six right­eous peo­ple need­ed at any one time to main­tain the Cre­ation. This pref­ace, along with an equal­ly fic­ti­tious edi­tors after­ward’ nice­ly frame tales of val­or in unex­pect­ed peo­ple; human (and some­times not), dis­tanc­ing the sto­ries and giv­ing them a fairy tale aura. Befit­ting the set­ting, there are moral lessons here, and com­ments on inter­per­son­al behavior. 

The writ­ing is decep­tive­ly sim­ple. The Book of the Unknown is delight­ful­ly enter­tain­ing, but why only twelve Tales? Per­haps Jonathan Keats will give us Vol­umes II and III? Please? 
Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

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