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The Golem of Rabbi Loew Paperback – August 20, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (August 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609104412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609104412
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8.4 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,849,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Golem of Rabbi Loew will prompt "gasps of outrage from conservative readers...a strong collection."  Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Johnny Townsend earned an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University. He has published stories and essays in Newsday, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Humanist, The Progressive, Christopher Street, The Massachusetts Review, Harrington Gay Men's Literary Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Drash, Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and in the anthology In Our Lovely Deseret: Mormon Fictions.

More About the Author

Johnny Townsend earned an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University. He has published stories and essays in Newsday, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Humanist, The Progressive, The Army Times, Christopher Street, The Massachusetts Review, Harrington Gay Men's Literary Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and in the anthology In Our Lovely Deseret: Mormon Fictions. He has spoken in New Orleans about the UpStairs Lounge fire on the 25th anniversary of the fire. He has also spoken at the Sunstone symposium in Salt Lake on the subject of gay Mormon literature. His book, "The Abominable Gayman," about a gay Mormon missionary in Italy, was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2011. His book, "Marginal Mormons," was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012. His book, "The Mormon Victorian Society," was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2013.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Johnny Townsend's interesting, well-written, and thought-provoking dozen short stories focus on sex in an often explicit manner and on Judaism with open fondness. Some stories look at Jewish practices and twist and turn them in ways that, while clearly admiring, cause readers to rethink their prior thought about them.

One tale, for example, tells about the sexual relations between two brothers, Jacob and Esau, a take-off on the patriarch Isaac's sons in the biblical story. Another speaks about a gay Jewish male who feels that having sex as a paid escort is a mitzvah, the fulfillment of a religious good deed, because of the pleasure he gives his customer. Still another tells how a misguided man, a kind of distorted and disturbed Dr. Frankenstein, wants to create a prophet to improve humanity without realizing that he is destroying his own family. Another is about a convert from Mormonism to Judaism confronting two overzealous yet religious Mormon missionaries and his struggle about what he should be doing to be an observant Jew.

The title tale, arguably the best, is one that many readers may at first find offensive because it portrays the famous pious mystical sage, Rabbi Loew, the alleged creator of the legendary man of clay, the Golem, as a homosexual. The rabbi prays to God to provide him with a soul-less male to be both a superman to protect his Jewish community against the bigots that constantly find excuses to harass and kill them and to be a man that he can secretly sleep with. The rabbi thinks that there is no biblical violation to have sex with a man who has no soul. If readers set aside their initial feelings, they will find that the story is engaging and raises many interesting questions about relationships, interfaith problems, life after death, and the soul.
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Format: Paperback
Author Townsend provides a diverse selection of short stories, all dealing with Jewish men, gay, bi or heterosexual. Each story has at least one unique "twist" that makes it unusual or potentially surreal. There is the title story, about a rabbi who rescues a body from a canal, and brings it back to life as a protector of his people and lover for himself. Another involves a gay nurse who escorts on the side, while another tells the story of a researcher who strives to make Jews genetically able to survive attacks.

There are twelve stories in all, with almost all of them doing little more than introducing characters and having them interact up to the "twist" point, then quickly coming to an end. While otherwise well-written, and some were somewhat entertaining, I found most of them pointless beyond the basic concept of "Jewish men sometimes do strange things." And, while I am somewhat familiar with Jewish idioms and slang terms, there are lots of terms in the stories that a non-Jewish person isn't likely to know, and no explanation or context to give it meaning. I can give this collection no more than three stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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